In November last year, two Humboldt Penguins were stolen from a Nottinghamshire zoo. On Wednesday this week, police officers recovered the pair in Strelley Village, West Nottingham after they received a tipoff. A man had bought the penguins from the thief, believing they had been rescued.

The Penguins have now been safely returned to the unnamed zoo and are reportedly well. Police arrested a 23-year-old man on suspicion of theft and burglary, however, he has since been released while investigations continue.

Nottinghamshire Police recover penguins

The pair of Penguins was retrieved in Strelley Village, after Reece Oliver, 27, had tipped the police off to the penguins that were in his care. Oliver said he had purchased the penguins “in good faith,” shortly after Christmas. He said when he bought the Humboldt Penguins, they were in a poor condition and he had to spend over £1,000 on medication and veterinary bills to get them well.

However, later he checked the Humboldt Penguins' microchips against a zoo database and realised the pair had been stolen.

Oliver immediately contacted the police. On Friday, Nottinghamshire Police arrested the 23-year-old man allegedly responsible for the theft.

Purchaser of Humboldt penguins speaks up

As reported by the Nottingham Post, Oliver works as a show jumper but also cares for several exotic animals in his home. Reportedly after the news broke, people were gathering outside his door, yelling abuse and calling him “Penguin thief.” He wanted to speak out about this abuse, saying he is being victimised, and that if it wasn’t for him, the Penguins would never have been returned to the zoo.

Oliver explained that the birds had been in ill health when he bought them and said he had given the birds veterinary treatment. It was only when he checked the Penguins’ microchips with a friend who runs a zoo that he found out they were stolen.

Oliver then contacted the zoo, which has not been identified and also called the police to inform them. He stressed that he is involved in conservation and rescue of animals.

Nottinghamshire Police and a case ‘for the books’

As reported by The Guardian, the investigation into the missing birds was run by Sgt Andrew Browning and PC Paul Toon. Browning said this case was “one for the books” and definitely a story to tell the grandchildren one day, as they didn’t believe they would actually go to Strelley Village and collect the Penguins. He went on to say this was an unusual case and when he took the pair into “custody,” it made everyone laugh. Browning added that the case was an “off-the-wall” find.

Humboldt Penguins originate from South America and reportedly you do not require a Dangerous Wild Animal License to keep the birds. However, you do need a zoo licence to keep the animals if you put them on display to the public for more than one week each year.