The emperor penguin nicknamed Happy Feet has been released into the wild and is on its way back to Antarctica.

Happy Feet was released at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, 49 miles north of New Zealand's Campbell Island, according to New Zealand's Wellington Zoo Web site.

The penguin looked a bit reluctant to go down the hydro-slide set out for him, but easily slipped down with a nudge from the crew.

Happy Feet needed some gentle encouragement to leave the safety of his crate that has been his home for six days, the zoo's manager of veterinary science, Dr. Lisa Argilla said on the zoo's Web site.

He slid down his specially designed penguin slide backwards but once he hit the water he spared no time in diving off away from the boat and all those 'aliens' who have been looking after him for so long, she said.

When Happy Feet did get into the water, he started swimming east, rather than south toward Antarctica, ABC News reported. But he soon started swimming in the right direction.

Happy Feet washed up on a New Zealand beach on June 20, ABC News reported. He was more than 1,800 miles from his Antarctic home, according to the BBC.

He was taken to the Wellington Zoo in New Zealand, where he had three medical procedures, including one that removed sand, stones and sticks he had swallowed, ABC reported.

Happy Feet eventually recovered and boarded the vessel Tangaroa on Aug. 29. Tangaroa is the largest research vessel of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the company said on its Web site.

Argilla was thrilled to see Happy Feet back where he belongs.

It's very exciting for me to get him to this point where we can release him, she told ABC News.