Penguins caught stealing sushi released from New Zealand police custody

The 'waddling vagrants' were discovered hiding beneath a sushi stand.

LONDON -- A pair of penguins have been released from police custody in New Zealand after being discovered hiding out in a sushi stand on Saturday.

The penguins, described as "waddling vagrants" by Constable John Zhu, were apprehended after receiving a report that the penguins had taken "refuge" at the stand on Featherston Street, Wellington.

Following a period of "temporary detainment," Wellington Police contacted New Zealand's chief governmental wildlife body, the Department of Conservation (DOC), and the penguins have now been taken into their care.

"Wellington's little blue penguins with a taste for sushi have been moved to a nesting box," the DOC posted on Twitter Tuesday. "Our rangers report that they seemed to like it and were making cooing noises which is a good sign."

Remarkably, the sushi-seeking penguins apprehended last weekend were not the first food-related penguin call Zhu received this week. Police received another call regarding a penguin taking refuge in a food stand near Wellington Rail Station Monday morning.

After "sensing something fishy," according to Wellington Police, Zhu discovered the nesting penguins. They were then released back into Wellington Harbour, with the assistance of the DOC and Wellington Zoo.

Little blue penguins, known locally as korora, are a protected species in New Zealand. Adult little blue penguins weigh around 2.2 pounds and grow to an average height of about 11.8 inches. Although they are spread widely along the New Zealand coast line, the population is declining and they are rarely seen during the daytime.