|Humboldt penguins at Sea Life Scarborough. |
Photo by AdamKR. Some rights reserved.
North Yorkshire police are looking at CCTV footage to try to identify those responsible, and appealing for any witnesses to come forward.
Mike Salt, general manager at the centre, told BBC News that the trespasser had chased the animals around for about 15 minutes, which would have been very upsetting for them.
"Penguins are very susceptible to stress, they like their routine and any change can prove threatening to them. This incident would have been really frightening. They have been clearly upset and were off their food for several days," he said.
This is not the first time the centre's penguins have been frightened by an intruder. In June 2008, a teenager broke into their enclosure and chased them around for 15 minutes. The birds went into shock, refusing to eat for two days, and had to be put on anti-stress drugs.
An even more distressing incident for one of the penguins, Piglet, occurred in May 2004 when he was stolen from the enclosure. He was found abandoned in a back garden, alive but distressed. Thankfully he recovered from his ordeal and went on to become the centre's first penguin dad when he and his female partner George hatched two chicks in June 2006.
Hopefully the penguins will recover just as well from this latest ordeal.
Penguins "frightened" by break-in at Sea Life Centre, 3 May 2011, BBC News
Raiders strike at Sea Life Centre, 3 May 2011, Scarborough Evening News
Penguins left in shock by Sea Life thug, 18 June 2008, Scarborough Evening News
Happy ending for plucky penguin, 28 June 2006, BBC News
Police hunt penguin "abductors", 18 May 2004, BBC News