24th January 2019

Two Humboldt penguins, Pablo and Penny, who were stolen from South Lakes Safari Zoo have been returned to the zoo. The penguins were sold to Reece Oliver, exotic animal breeder, who bought them for £10,000 after seeing them advertised on Facebook. His private collection of animals include a puma, lions and monkeys.

When Oliver took the penguins to the vet, he discovered that they were microchipped and belonged to the controversial South Lakes Safari Zoo. Having discovered this, he contacted the police who set up a sting operation. The 23 year old seller, who remains unnamed, was arrested on suspicion of burglary and theft an released on bail.

Maddy Taylor, Campaigns Officer, said

This bizarre series of events calls into question the security at the zoo. Surely it should not be that easy to steal two penguins from a zoo? With reports of Pablo and Penny being advertised back in November 2018, it appears that once again the zoo has been caught up in controversial events. And once again, concerning events have not been made public. Yet another example of failings at the zoo which we intend to raise with the council.

These poor wild birds have been through an ordeal. Stolen and transported over 100 miles to the buyer, to make a decent profit with the sale of their chicks. Sadly, this case shows how easy it is to trade wild animals online. Whilst these penguins have been ‘saved’ from one form of exploitation, they head home to another. They will live a life of captivity in the zoo, never to see their natural habitat of South America.

UPDATE: It hs been revealed that other animals were stolen from the zoo at the same time as the penguins, and these are still missing.

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