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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Traumatised penguins given herbal drugs to calm them after gang break into their enclosure and try to snatch them

By Daily Mail Reporter

-Terrified seabirds chased for half an hour after security breach
-Police hunt for three men after the Easter Monday attack

Chilling out: Penguins' keeper Lyndsey Crawford giving the penguins the herbal drug with their normal feed of herring to calm them down and help them relax

A group penguins terrorised by a gang of yobs who broke into their enclosure at a sea life centre have been left so distraught that keepers have been feeding them herbal drugs to help them relax.

Staff at Scarborough's Sea Life Centre say the birds are so traumatised after three intruders broke in and tried to catch them that they are not sleeping and are on 24 hour watch.

Displays Curator Lyndsey Crawford, 33, said she discovered the ten birds in a skittish state following the break-in during which netting around the enclosure was slashed and CCTV cameras broken.

Catch them: CCTV showing the yobs who forced their way into the enclosure damaging the fence and smashing the CCTV cameras. They chased the birds for almost 30 minutes

Nervous: Since the break-in staff say their behaviour has changed and the dynamics of the group has changed

She said: 'Birds are renowned for having extremely high stress levels and stress can actually kill them.

'Since the break-in their whole behaviour and the dynamics of the group has changed.

'They are on guard all the time, half of them aren't sleeping because they are on watch. They are very nervous and they stay in the water.

'If they are out of the water they run around all frantic.'

Ms Crawford said staff has been administering the herbal relaxing drugs twice a day with the penguins normal food - herring.

Ms Crawford said: 'It's like people would take Rescue Remedy, we're giving them calming pills.

'It's a gentle treatment which calms them down and helps their breathing.

Traumatised: The incident mirrors a similar break-in at the centre, in 2008, when a penguin was kidnapped and later found alive.

'I've been working with the birds for about eight years and they are part of my family. I can't understand why anyone would want to hurt them.

'There was a one-year-old penguin in the enclosure at the time which has been the worst affected out of them all.

'I handed the CCTV footage over to the police. The men were chasing them around the enclosure for about 20 to 30 minutes.

'All birds are sensitive, especially marine birds, and they are very difficult to rehabilitate.'

Police are still hunting for three men who were seen chasing the flightless birds.

The trio entered the premises at about 2.20am in the early hours of Easter Monday, April 25 before damaging CCTV equipment.

The incident mirrors a similar break-in at the centre, in 2008, when a penguin was kidnapped and later found alive.

The birds were also given medication to help relax following that incident and Lyndsey said it took around three months for them to return to their normal behaviour.



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