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Boozed-up British tourists fined $1,000 each for stealing Sea World penguin Down Under


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Boozed-up British tourists fined $1,000 each for stealing Sea World penguin Down Under

Last Updated: 8:15 AM, May 2, 2012

SOUTHPORT, Australia -- It was like "The Hangover" -- with a penguin.

Two bird-brained British tourists were Wednesday each fined AU$1,000 (US$1,030) for stealing a penguin from Sea World during a drunken binge Down Under.

The men, from Wales, were also slammed as stupid by the magistrate -- and told they were lucky not to have fallen in the shark tank.

They stole the bird, named Dirk, from the fairy penguin exhibit on a vodka-fueled night of mayhem at the popular Gold Coast marine park on April 14.

Rhys Owen Jones, 21, and Keri Mules, 20, faced Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday and each pleaded guilty to counts of trespass, stealing and unlawfully keeping a protected animal, The Courier-Mail reported.

The duo, in Australia on working visas, were part of a group that entered Sea World late at night through an unlocked gate, setting off a fire extinguisher in the shark tank and swimming with the dolphins before grabbing Dirk on the way out.

Back at their Southport apartment they posed for photos with the animal before passing out drunk.

In a scene reminiscent of Hollywood movie "The Hangover," they woke the next day with sore heads and no idea why they were sharing their digs with a penguin.

"They tried their incompetent best to care for the penguin," said defense lawyer Bill Potts -- who was dressed in a penguin tie -- the Brisbane Times reported.

After a feeble attempt to feed and shower the bird, the men panicked and released him in to the shark-infested waters of the Gold Coast Broadwater.

The men were arrested after a mutual friend spotted the pictures on Facebook and called the police, The Courier-Mail said.

After an extensive search, Dirk was found later that night shivering under a jetty pylon. A local couple saw the traumatized bird being chased out of the water by something -- possibly a dolphin or a shark -- then being chased back in by a dog.

Magistrate Brian Kucks did not record a conviction against the two men but said they were lucky not to have fallen in the shark tank or stumbled into the polar bear enclosure.

"You could have found yourselves in a morgue if you'd gone into the wrong enclosure. Perhaps next time you are at a party you will consider drinking a little less vodka," he said.

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