Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Unknown - 3 men penguin stolen from zoo Dublin, Ireland July 9, 2010  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
    1 10-year-old female Humboldt penguin

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A panicked penguin was found waddling along the streets of Dublin after a gang of pranksters stole her from the city zoo.

Ten-year-old Kelli was said to be none the worse for her kidnap ordeal after 3 men climbed perimeter fences and snatched her from her mate Mick.

Disgusted keepers at Dublin Zoo revealed the delicate bird, and her other half, could have died from the trauma.

Keeper Eddie O'Brien said the penguin was obviously traumatized when rescued but quickly settled back into her routine.  'These birds get stressed very easily when taken out of their environment. They don't react well to it and could have caused a heart attack,' he said.

Police said 3 men broke into the zoo and climbed into the enclosure.  It is believed the stunt may have been an elaborate prank to 'pick-up a penguin' in a live internet broadcast recorded on 'penguin cam' on the zoo's website.

The thieves snatched the Humboldt - native to parts of South America, mainly Chile - stuffed it in a sports bag, hailed a taxi outside the zoo and fled.

Police believe they told the taxi driver they had a rabbit in the hold-all.

While the creature was reported to be physically safe and well she was said to be severely stressed.
 Photo courtesy of the Mail Foreign Service.  Kelli in her enclosure at the Dublin Zoo

'They don't deal well with being handled. She was panting a little,' O'Brien said. 'Her mate was also panting and would have been more stressed because he had been left alone. They bond together very strongly - there could have been 2 deaths with the 1 being abandoned.'

Zoo staff raised the alarm after taking the morning head count in the penguin enclosure and found one of the 14 missing.

It is believed the cab driver was quickly traced through a registration plate and gave police information on where the 3 men had been dropped off.

  Photo courtesy of the Mail Foreign Service  Kelli and keeper Garth Dejong at Dublin Zoo.

Within a couple of hours officers from a city centre station were alerted to reports of a penguin on Rutland Street in the north inner city and found the bird.

The penguin was fitted with a microchip, like all the zoo's animals. Police tracked the penguin using a signal from the microchip.

A zoo spokesman said: 'Dublin Zoo was naturally relieved that the animal was returned safe and unharmed.'

  Photo courtesy of the Mail Foreign Service   Kelli getting her favorite treat to help calm her down.

Kelli and Mick, who have yet to successfully breed, were left for the evening to bond some more in their quiet nesting area.

It is the first animal theft in Dublin Zoo's history. Two years ago an adventurous orangutan went on the run, making a bold bid for freedom after 24 years in captivity.   Maggie left her baby Mujur behind and managed to enjoy an hour on the loose wandering around in front of her enclosure but never left the zoo grounds.

Update 7/9/10:
The Dublin Zoo condemned the theft as no joke.  By releasing Keli to the city sidewalk, she could have been injured or worse crushed by a vehicle.

This is not the first time pranksters have targeted the zoo.  In 2008, the zoo switchboard was overwhelmed by callers asking to speak to Rory Lyon, G. Raffe and Ana Conda.

Reference:

The Mail Foreign Service The New Hampshire Union Leader