An Emperor penguin walks along Peka Peka Beach in New Zealand after it got lost while hunting for food.
A young penguin took a wrong turn somewhere in the Antarctic and wound up all alone - on a New Zealand beach at least 2,000 miles from home
The Emperor penguin, who experts said was about 10 months old and 32 inches tall, likely got separated from its companions while searching for squid and krill, according to The Associated Press.
"It was out-of-this-world to see it ... like someone just dropped it from the sky," said Wellington resident Christine Wilton, whoi was taking her miniature Schnauzer dog Millie for a walk on Peka Peka Beach on the North Island's western coast when she spied the bird Monday evening.
Cionservation experts are going to let the disoriented bird find its way back home, and said it is healthy enough to make the trip. Colin Miskelly, a curator at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, said the penguin appears well-nourished at about 22 pounds. But he said it had been eating wet sand, likely mistaking it for snow.
"It doesn't realize that the sand isn't going to melt inside it," Miskelly said. "They typically eat snow, because it's their only liquid."
The last time an Emperor penguiin was seen in New Zeland was in 1967, Peter Simpson, a program manager for New Zealand's Department of Conservation, told the AP.