Hope runs out for stolen penguins

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Four graduating high school students known as russ remained charged with cruelty to animals after they admitted to breaking into an aquarium in Ålesund last week. Police now say a total of seven russ were spotted on surveillance video inside the aquarium’s penguin enclosure, but none has confessed to stealing three baby penguins and an unhatched penguin egg.

The case continued to generate headlines in Norway through the weekend but aquarium officials say they’ve lost hope the penguins will be recovered alive. “Until late on Friday we kept hoping the penguins would turn up, but now I think, unfortunately, it’s too late,” Tor Erik Standal, leader of the aquarium called Atlanterhavsparken, told newspaper Aftenposten. Standal doesn’t think there’s any chance the three-week-old baby penguins could survive this long without the warmth and food of their parents.

The penguins belonged to the endangered Humboldt species, Standal said, making their theft even more tragic. “There are only around 12,000 of them in the entire world, and our penguins are part of a global breeding program,” Standal said. Penguins born here are supposed to eventually be distributed among other aquariums and staff had high hopes for the babies born this spring. Now they’re gone.

Representatives of the russ in Ålesund have issued an apology and regretted that the “stupid” antics “of a few have ruined things for everyone.” The local russ decided to march in Sunday’s 17th of May parade after all, however, and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported there were no incidents.

newsinenglish.no staff