Ideally, the penguin will heal enough to eventually be released into the wild. But returning it to Antarctica isn't feasible, at least for now. There's no transportation to the continent in the harsh winter.
There's also concern about infection. The penguin may have caught a disease by swimming through warmer climes, and wildlife officials would not want to be responsible for introducing illness into the insulated Antarctic penguin colony, Simpson said.
Often, sick birds require rehabilitation for a month or two before being released, Wellington Zoo spokeswoman Kate Baker said, adding that some creatures with severe injuries remain in captivity.
The rare venture north captured the public imagination, with school groups, sightseers and news crews coming to the beach to see the penguin and photograph it from a distance.
Christine Wilton, who discovered the penguin Monday while walking her dog, was back at the beach Friday to say goodbye.
"I'm so pleased it's going to be looked after," she said. "He needed to get off the beach. He did stand up this morning, but you could tell that he wasn't happy."
Manning reported from Los Angeles.
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