Authorities in Queensland, Australia have arrested three men for stealing a 7-year-old penguin named Dirk from Sea World. Police spokesperson Rachel Clark says the trio was charged with trespassing, stealing, and unlawfully keeping a protected animal. Their first court appearance is scheduled for May 2.
Dirk, a 1-foot tall fairy penguin, was taken from his enclosure Saturday night. Police received a tip about his disappearance after the three suspects bragged about their crime on Facebook. Sea World alerted the public and Dirk was found under the Southport pier Sunday night by a couple walking on the beach.
"It's totally foreign to this animal and it's very, very cruel," Sea World employee Trevor Long told ABC Radio on Monday. "He wouldn't have survived in the wild, not at all. He would have been an ideal target for a bull shark during the day or dogs and cats."
Sea World spokesperson Renee Soutar said Dirk, who was bred in captivity, was ''in reasonable health, although exhausted” at the time of his rescue and spent Sunday night under veterinary observation. He has since returned to his enclosure. Soutar said the animal theft is the first in the park’s 40 year history.
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