A handout photo taken and received on April 16, 2012, shows Dirk, a fairy penguin at Sea World on Queensland's Gold Coast, who was stolen from an Australian marine park.
Credits: SEA WORLD AUSTRALIA
The seven-year-old Fairy Penguin was doing what penguins do at an Australian Sea World when three drunk British men broke into the premises, swam with dolphins and kidnapped him.
Such was the level of their intoxication, that police say they could not recall the incident when they woke up the next day.
According to police, the three men unlawfully entered the marine park on Queensland's Gold Coast last week and proceeded take a semi-nude dip inside the dolphin tank. They then moved on to the penguin enclosure, where they helped themselves to Dirk.
Upon awaking the next day and discovering an aquatic bird roaming around their rented room in Surfers Paradise, the men struggled to piece together the events of the night before.
Police say the two eventually decided to ditch Dirk in a nearby shark-infested lagoon, where he was luckily spotted after being chased out of the water, possibly by a predator.
The frightened animal was returned to Sea World and reunited with its mate, Peaches.
The police were able to track down the men thanks to a Facebook status update in which one of the perps allegedly bragged about kidnapping the penguin.
"Still a bit fuzzy about the whole thing but on behalf of the three of us we are very sorry and it was just a prank which went way too far," said one of the men, Rhys Jones, in an interview on Australian TV station 7 News.
Jones provided the station with video he recorded of the penguin inside the men's apartment, which he says proves they meant Dirk no harm.
The trio are due in court May 2 to face a number of serious charges, including trespassing and stealing a protected animal.