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File photo of a juvenile fairy penguin. Dirk the penguin was at risk of being eaten by a shark when he was released by two Welshmen who had stolen him from a theme park. RICK RYCROFT/AP
Fish Food

'Blind drunk' tourists fined $1,000 for stealing penguin from theme park

Rhys Owen Jones, 21, and Keri Mules, 20, pleaded guilty to stealing a penguin from an Australian Sea World last month.

TWO WELSH TOURISTS have been fined A$1000 (€785) each after pleading guilty to stealing a penguin from a theme park during a night out last month.

Rhys Owen Jones, 21, and Keri Mules, 20, both from south Wales, broke into the Sea World park on the Gold Coast in Queensland last month while visiting Australia on a working holiday.

The pair had been attending a beach party on April 14 when they broke into the park, where the BBC reports they had swam with dolphins and let off a fire extinguisher in an enclosure for sharks.

They then took a seven-year-old fairy penguin – apparently named Dirk – and brought him home, where they found him the following day. The friends told the court that they had meant no harm to the animal and had put it under a shower while they recovered from their hangovers.

The Brisbane Times reported that the pair had drank 1.5 litres of vodka before their escapades, saying the pair had gotten “blind drunk”.

It adds that the duo, fearful of the repercussions of returning the penguin to the theme park, released it into a nearby river – not knowing that the river was inhabited by bull sharks which could have eaten it.

Dirk was safely rescued from the river and was later returned to the theme park and to his partner Peaches.

According to the London Independent, their exploits were only revealed when the pair had taken photos and videos of the penguin before releasing it, and then posted these to Facebook.

From there, the pair’s friends released their actions and alerted the police.

The court heard that the two had ‘deeply regretted’ their actions and had submitted written apologies both to the theme park and to the public. The judge agreed not to record convictions and fined them A$1,000 each, adding:

Perhaps next time you are at a party you will consider drinking a little less vodka.

A third person, an Australian who is accused of joining the pair in their entry to Sea World, faces a single charge of trespassing and will have his case heard next month.

Read: Penguin breaks out of Tokyo aquarium

More: Extinct ‘giant penguin’ species reconstructed from fossils

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