True Crime Lite: The Harrowing Tale of Dirk the Penguin
Vacations are a time to relax, unwind, and relieve oneself of the pressures of daily life. It's a chance to experience new and interesting things. Maybe check some items off your bucket list. And for many it's also a time to imbibe a little more than usual. Many of us have awoken from a drunken night on vacation, hung over and hating life. But not many of us can honestly say that we left on vacation only to come back on probation. Fewer can say that their night of drinking in another country turned into a bad imitation of the movie, The Hangover.
On April 14, 2012, two Welsh tourists visiting Australia on a working holiday visa were out for a night of partying. 21-year-old Rhys Owns Jones was reported by the BBC to be a former Royal Marine, while 20-year-old Keri Mules was a bricklayer. The two had gone to a beach party earlier in the night and ended up with an 18-year-old Australian local, breaking into Sea World on Queensland's Gold Coast. After gaining entry the pair ran amuck throughout the park. They swam with the dolphins, let a fire extinguisher off inside a shark enclosure, and topped their night of shenanigans off by stealing a 7-year-old fairy penguin named Dirk from his aquarium.
The next morning they awoke, hung over from a hard night of drinking to find a flightless bird hanging out in their apartment. If they didn't immediately remember the previous night's so-called prank, they quickly recalled. They attempted to take care of the little guy, feeding him and placing him in the shower. They must have figured out pretty quickly that there was no way they could keep him. After all, how would they smuggle a stolen penguin on the plane home?
Jones and Mules took Dirk to a canal to release him. Luckily for him they were spotted by locals, who called the police. Dirk was rescued and returned to Sea World, and to his partner, Peaches. The pair of pranksters were brought before Brisbane magistrates.
Magistrate Brian Kucks listened as he was told of the stupidity and immaturity displayed by the pair that night. He was also informed that they had written a letter of apology not just to Sea World, but to the Australian public as well. In the letter, Jones and Mules expressed the deep-held regret they felt as a result of their actions. Each was issued a fine of 1,000 Australian dollars, though Kucks did accept an appeal not to record their conviction. According to the BBC, Kucks informed them, "You could have found yourselves in a morgue if you'd gone into the wrong enclosure." He also suggested, "Perhaps next time you are at a party you will consider drinking a little less vodka." The 18-year-old local, who had been facing a trespassing charge, had his case adjourned to June 27.
Some takeaways from this story: Vodka is a friend to no one. No good story ever started with vodka. No good story ever ended with a penguin living happily ever after in your apartment, either. The best takeaway from this story by far is less vodka.