Editorial: Money wasted on Happy Feet

00:02, Aug 31 2011

He had his own enclosure, was given a cute nickname and even had his privacy invaded at Wellington Zoo with a livestreaming webcam broadcasting his every movement.

But now, Happy Feet, the penguin that washed up on Peka Peka Beach a couple of months ago has been bundled onboard a Niwa ship where he will be dropped off at some remote island somewhere between southernmost New Zealand and Antarctica.

For a little while after that people will be able to track his whereabouts thanks to a GPS locator strapped to him.

And what a waste of money it has all been. Hasn't it?

The misguided penguin somehow ended up on a beach venue that was too warm for him and started eating twigs and plenty of sand. He was soon after taken, at great expense, to Wellington Zoo where he was poked, prodded and inspected by a range of zoo and Department of Conservation staff.

No doubt we will find out how much was spent in the couple of months, but it will definitely be tens of thousands of public dollars – perhaps even hundreds of thousands.

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And for what? Admittedly, Wellington Zoo has done a booming business and there have been some smiling faces because of that. Some have even said New Zealand's treatment of the big bird has been good publicity for the country as a place that looks after animals and the environment.

Now, that's a stretch. It's nice to have "warm fuzzies" about the bird and "ooh and ahh" when we see the latest pictures and video. But on a serious level, there is a lot to be said for nature taking its course.

It may be unpopular and it may upset people, but we can't always intervene when some creature arrives on our shores.

Otherwise, where do we draw the line?

ONE MORE THING

Our shot-putting golden girl Valerie Adams seems to go from strength to strength as the years go by. The 26-year-old was the only New Zealander to perform with distinction at the track and field world championships this week, taking home yet another gold.

She may come across as prickly and battle through her interviews, but she is a world-class athlete who performs at the highest level time and time again. While her sport isn't one of the glamour events of world sport, her commitment to it and endurance are paying off.

Too bad the world record that she aims for may never be reached, as some of the top shot put throws by women have been tainted by the cloud of steroid use in the 1980s.

Manawatu Standard