5 min read

Little Penguin Couple Won't Stop Breaking Into Sushi Cart

"They were defiant, not shy at all" 🐧🐧😂

Last weekend, two little blue penguins were sorely disappointed when they learned that the fresh fish at their chosen nesting site wasn’t actually meant for them. 

The location seemed perfect: not only was it close to the harbor in Wellington, New Zealand, but there was plenty of readily-available food. After all, it was a sushi stand.

The pair of penguins, a species known as kororā, had crossed a busy four-lane road to stake out their new territory. But not everyone was happy about their wild new neighbors.

Two little blue penguins in a sushi shop
Long Lin

The trouble started on Saturday night when a police officer spotted one of the penguins on the street and led him back to the water. But one stern warning wasn’t enough to stop the “waddling vagrants,” as the Wellington District Police dubbed the pair, from returning to their nesting site.

The next morning, the birds were back under the shop. However, Long Lin, one of the owners of Sushi Bi, had no idea he had guests until hundreds of patrons started asking after the penguins.

As it turns out, the little birds weren't entirely bad for business.

The harbor is home to about 600 pairs of penguins, but few are adventurous enough to cross the busy street. “We often have penguins in the harbor, but to have them in the city is rare,” Senior Sergeant Quentin Ward told The Dodo. “The irony that they end up under a sushi cart.” 

Lin finally spotted the pair underneath the shop Monday afternoon and lured the penguins inside with some fresh salmon. "[I'm] not too sure if it was their favorite food," Lin told The Dodo. "[But] they did come. I was sure they were hungry."

For Lin, it was an unbelievable feeling to hold the birds. "They were pretty heavy for their size — like a stuffed toy," Lin said. "And they were defiant, not shy at all."

A little blue penguin on the run from the law in New Zealand
Long Lin

The Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Wellington Zoo worked alongside the police to remove the birds from the shop a second time. 

The DOC checked the penguins for injuries and signs of stress, and both were found to be in "good condition," according to Ward. 

The penguins were released into a more appropriate nesting site by the harbor. However, authorities fear that the sneaky birds may be on the run yet again, as their assigned nesting box has been found empty two days in a row.

Staff members at Sushi Bi are checking under the shop and keeping an eye on the salmon should their feathered guests return.