A pair of penguins were detained by Wellington police yesterday morning after they were caught loitering beneath a sushi outlet. The birds, described by local authorities as “waddling vagrants,” had been spotted hanging near a Wellington train station around dawn before making their way to nearby Sushi Bi. A staff member later heard them making a cooing, humming sound beneath the shop and called the cops, The Guardian reports.
“This was not the first report police had received about the fishy birds,” Wellington police revealed on their Facebook page. “We received a call about 8:40 PM on Saturday night of a penguin on the road in Featherston Street. Police responded and with some help from members of the public released the penguin, described as 'little and blue', back into the sea. Then today, about 6:35 AM, police received another report of the penguin, this time with a companion, near Wellington Railway Station.”
The penguins were “temporarily detained” by police before being released into Wellington Harbour. But the owners of Sushi Bi told RNZ last night that the birds had crossed busy streets between the harbour and the station to get back to the sushi bar. The Department of Conservation (DOC) eventually removed the birds for a second time.
It's probably not the sashimi that keeps them coming back, though. Rather, it’s thought that the birds have been hiding near the grills beneath the shop, where it’s warm.
DOC Wellington operations manager Jack Mace said the birds, which are quite common in Wellington Harbour, were probably pairing up at this time of year and looking for places where they could lay their eggs. DOC said they would continue monitoring the site, as they believed the penguins would likely try to return again.
"It's a natural characteristic of the penguins—they will always return to where they possibly were nesting,” said volunteer Mike Rumble, who helped get rid of the penguins the second time. "That's why… I wouldn't be surprised if the owner of the sushi bar says 'they're back'.”
Jack further added that people should keep their distance from the penguins, as they could bite.
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