Race is on to find penguin ‘condemned to death’ by student kidnappers

A frantic search is under way for a rare penguin which was kidnapped from a marine park and released into the sea. The hunt for Buddy, an endangered African black-footed penguin, was launched after two students admitted taking him from his enclosure at the Bayworld Oceanarium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in protest at him being held in captivity. He was taken in the boot of a car on a short drive and set free in the Indian Ocean. But his keepers say the pair may have condemned him to certain death as he will not be able to live in the wild. “He simply does not have the experience necessary to survive,” said Bayworld manager Dylan Bailey.

Although Buddy is a healthy penguin and should have enough energy to survive for up to three weeks in the wild, he is a captive raised bird that is now in an unfamiliar environment

Dylan Bailey, manager of the Bayworld Oceanarium

Buddy, also known as penguin No. 266, was discovered missing on Thursday last week when he could not be found for his monthly health check. Security camera footage showed the two students, both in their 20s, entering the enclosure the night before. The students came forward to explain their actions and Mr Bailey said: “They are convinced what they did was in the interest of the penguin.” Staff are now patrolling the beach where he was taken but so far to no avail. They are especially worried because Buddy has been taken away from his partner, Francis, who is now struggling to raise their two chicks on her own.

Luckily, he was a very healthy penguin - actually quite fat - so he has a good few weeks of reserves

Mr Bailey