Happy Feet was returned to the sea off Campbell Island on 4 September. Photo: AP
The penguin known as Happy Feet who became famous around the world when he was found lost and disoriented on a New Zealand beach could have been eaten by a shark, say researchers.
The three-year-old penguin underwent months of rehabilitation at Wellington Zoo after his ordeal of ending up 3,000 miles away from home.
He was finally released back into the waters of the Southern Ocean on 4 September, complete with a transmitter strapped to his back so researchers could keep track of his movements.
But the transmitter has been silent since Friday, prompting concerns that he may have been eaten by a larger animal, either a shark or a whale.
According to the Telegraph, Sirtrack, the company monitoring Happy Feet's progress through his transmissions, said of the development: 'This leads to the conclusion that either the satellite transmitter has detached or an unknown event has prevented Happy Feet from resurfacing.'
Kevin Lay, a wildlife consultant at Sirtrack, said they couldn't rule out Happy Feet meeting an unpleasant end, adding: 'That's what makes the world go round'.