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Australia: British tourists who stole penguin in 'Hangover' style romp fined $1000

Two tourists who broke into an Australian theme park and stole a penguin named Dirk following a "Hangover" style drunken romp have been fined about $1000 each, although they escaped a criminal conviction.
penguin dirk australia 2012 5 2 Enlarge
A penguin swims through a basin at the zoo in Hanover, central Germany, on April 6, 2012. (PETER STEFFEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Two tourists who broke into an Australian theme park and stole a penguin named Dirk following a "Hangover" style drunken romp have been fined about $1000 each, although they escaped a criminal conviction.

The Welshmen, Rhys Owen Jones, 21 — a former British Royal Marine — and his bricklayer friend Keri Mules, 20, admitted to breaking into Sea World on Queensland's Gold Cost last month after getting drunk at a beach party.

According to the Brisbane Times, the pair — who were on a working holiday in Australia — drank 1.5 litres of vodka between them before their escapade.

According to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), they broke into the animal park on April 14, swimming with dolphins then letting off a fire extinguisher in a shark enclosure.

Then they snatched the fairy penguin from an aquarium, claiming to remember nothing of it until they woke up with the flightless bird in their apartment the following day.

Today, they pleaded guilty to trespassing, stealing and keeping a protected animal.

Their lawyer Bill Potts, who was wearing a penguin tie in court according to AAP, said his clients meant no harm.

He said that upon discovering they had the bird in their apartment, they tried to care for it by feeding it bread and putting it in the shower.

"They tried their incompetent best to care for the penguin," Potts said.

He said their actions were immature and stupid, but there was no malice involved.

“I'm not sure if a little bird popped into their heads, but they thought a swim with the dolphins might be nice,” he told the court.

The BBC quoted Magistrate Brian Kucks as saying: "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."

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