New Zealand: Emperor penguin has two operations

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Media captionThe penguin was unwell after eating sand, mistaking it for snow.

A young emperor penguin found washed up on a New Zealand beach has undergone two operations but remains in serious condition, reports say.

The penguin was found last Monday by a dog-walker on Peka Peka beach, about 60km (37 miles) north of Wellington.

It had apparently swum off course some 3,000km from its home in Antarctica.

As its condition deteriorated, the penguin was moved to Wellington zoo where it has undergone operations to remove sand from its stomach.

A businessman has offered to ship the bird - dubbed Happy Feet and of unknown sex - home, but only in February.

Experts were at first reluctant to intervene when the penguin was first discovered in apparently good health. But the bird grew lethargic, prompting the move to Wellington Zoo.

The penguin had been eating sand - apparently mistaking it for snow, which penguins eat for hydration and to keep cool, but which is now causing internal blockages.

It has now undergone two procedures to flush the sand out, and faces another one on Monday after having a rest on Sunday.

It is on an intravenous drip to help it rehydrate.

The bird's plight has attracted worldwide attention.

"There's people all over the world keeping an eye on this guy, and they need to know that we're doing our best," said Lisa Argilla, a vet at Wellington Zoo.

New Zealand businessman Gareth Morgan, who is leading an expedition to Antarctica next February, offered the bird a lift on the expedition website.

"Of course until that time Happy Feet will have to be cared for here in Wellington, where we're lucky enough to have a great community of wildlife experts, capable not just of pumping sand but also ensuring this wayfaring fellow is hosted appropriately until it's time to set sail," he said.

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