A stolen penguin is admittedly one of the more unusual crimes to hear about. But, dear readers, it is true. Three men were arrested in Queensland, Australia after breaking into Sea World, swimming with dolphins, then stealing Dirk, a 7-year-old fairy penguin.
The men, ages 18, 20, and 21, were arrested after a friend reportedly tipped off the police about the trio’s late night adventure. They have been charged with trespassing, stealing and unlawfully keeping a protected animal.
The men also admitted to police that after taking Dirk, they released him into the Broadwater, an estuary known for its large shark population.
Dirk was rescued from being shark bait when a couple spotted him being chased by an animal in the shallow estuary waters. Sea World’s director of marine services, Trevor Long, told reporters that:
“They heard a scuffle in the water, and this penguin came out onto the sand…they thought it was very, very unusual, so they got on to their iPhone and googled ‘lost penguin’. That came up with the story, and from there they were able to contact us.”
Long also stated that, considering the area the lost penguin was discovered, “Had we not got him it wouldn’t have been a good situation at all in the long term for Dirk.” It is likely that, had the couple not spotted him, Dirk would have been shark food.
The penguin was shaken, but otherwise seemed unharmed by it’s unplanned adventure outside captivity. Having been part of a breeding colony, Dirk had never experienced life outside of captivity before. Long said that, “[Dirk] was extremely dishevelled, he was quite exhausted last night after we did catch him but … he’s settled down well.”
Long went on to express his relief at the penguin’s return, saying: “These penguins do mate for life and that’s why it was so important to get this bird back.” Dirk has officially been reunited with his mate, Peaches.
Check out the video below for additional information about the alleged kidnapping: