An Antarctic penguin who got lost and swam to New Zealand has fully recovered after undergoing surgery at the Wellington Zoo.

Named "Happy Feet," the Emperor penguin went under the knife when it began acting lethargic and sick. Veterinarians discovered that the bird had eaten a large quantity of sand, which it likely mistook for snow. Penguins eat snow when they're thirsty, which Happy Feet certainly was after his 2,000 mile journey.

Zoo staff say that Happy Feet has recovered nicely, but they will not release him back into the wild yet. He is recuperating in a pen at the zoo, where water has been cooled to below freezing temperatures.

The penguin was discovered on the Peka Peka Beach in June by Christine Wilton, who was walking her dog.

"It was out-of-this-world to see it," she told the AP. "Like someone just dropped it from the sky."

Happy Feet -- who is named after the 2006 movie about dancing penguins -- is estimated to be about 11 months old. He is thought to have been born during the last Antarctic winter. The last time an Emperor penguin was seen in New Zealand was in 1967, when one was spotted at Oreti Beach in Southland.

New Zealand authorities are prohibited from bringing the bird back to its home ice, due to international restrictions. The penguin could have picked up parasites foreign to Antarctica during its amazing voyage.