British tourists accused of breaking into Australian theme park to steal penguinAFP/Getty


Three British tourists have been accused of stealing a penguin from Sea World on Queensland's Gold Coast after a drunken night out.

The Daily Mail reports that three Welsh men, aged 18, 20 and 21, will appear in court on May 2 after allegedly breaking into the Australian marine park, stripping off to their underwear to swim with dolphins and stealing a fairy penguin.

The seven-year-old penguin called Dirk (pictured), was part of captive-bred breeding colony.

The men woke up the next morning to find Dirk in their accommodation and are reported to have released him into a canal.

He was found by a couple in an estuary the day after he was stolen. They said they saw Dirk chased out of the water, possibly by a shark, before being chased back in by a dog. He was later rescued by Sea World Staff and reunited with his mate, Peaches.

Sea World's director of marine sciences said: "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."

The three men were apparently caught by police after posting details of the incident on Facebook.

They have been charged with trespassing, stealing and unlawfully keeping a protected animal.

One of the men is reported as saying: "We're really sorry for all the trouble we've caused."

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