THUGS endangered the lives of penguins when they broke into Scarborough’s Sea Life Centre and chased them around their enclosure.
The incident is one of a spate of crimes at the North Bay tourist attraction during a five-day period, police revealed yesterday.
Penguins are very vulnerable to human contact. On a previous incident in June 2008 they had to be given anti-stress drugs after a teenager broke in and chased them around for 15 minutes.
One penguin, Piglet, was stolen, and could have died.
A police spokeswoman yesterday confirmed that:
l On April 25 youths caused criminal damage when they broke into the enclosure and startled the penguin population at 2.20am
l Last Tuesday thieves struck at the snacks bar at 3.50pm
l Later that day a car knocked down a flag pole at 8.50pm
l Last Thursday thieves climbed into a yard at the centre and stole timber before damaging CCTV cameras at 9.30pm
l Last Friday two men triggered alarms at 9.30pm when they broke into a kiosk to force open a till but left empty-handed – they also damaged CCTV cameras.
She added that investigating officers were studying CCTV footage. She said: “It is not known if the incidents are linked but they are in the same area.
“Police are asking for anyone with any information, or who saw anything suspicious in the area, to contact them.”
Laura Booty, the centre’s operations manager, said she was concerned for the welfare of the centre’s animals.
In the wake of the new incidents, the centre has hired security guards to patrol the area during the night.
She added: “The penguins found it incredibly stressful and it affects their well-being. It’s not fun for them.”
The actions in 2008 were caught on CCTV showing him chasing the 14 terrified birds which went into shock.
They didn’t eat for two days, and even shunned the Sea Life assistants who look after them.
Speaking at the time Lindsay Crawford, the displays curator at the centre, said that the birds could have died and were petrified following their ordeal.
The CCTV cameras at the centre were donated by Coastal Security in 2004 after Piglet the penguin was stolen from the centre and later recovered from a garden in Barrowcliff with the help of the public and police.
On returning he was shunned by the others because they sensed he had had human contact.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt 1203 Hope of Scarborough Police on 0845 6060247.