A surveillance video from the aquarium shows a group of seven students breaking into the building and then emerging clutching what staff believe to be penguin eggs and chicks.
Norwegian high school students traditionally carry out drunken pranks and public disturbances in their final spring term, known in Norway as the “Russ” celebrations.
“This is a very nasty case,” Tor Erik Standal, Manager of Atlanterhavsparken, told local paper Sunnmørsposten.
“Unfortunately it seems that it is the russ who have been here. They had a party in the parking lot and our CCTV shows that seven people have been inside. They are easily recognisable with reflective patterns on their russ outfits.”
Rune Veiseth, operations manager at the aquarium, said it was probably already too late for the penguins.
“We can always hope, but the three chicks are Humboldt penguins who are native to areas in Chile and Peru, not on the ice,” Veiseth told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. “They live in a climate close to ours, but the three chicks are warmed by their mothers and are totally reliant on them.”
A number of students have been interviewed by police about the kidnapping, including a young woman who admits to being part of the group. She refuses to disclose their whereabouts, however.
“A russ girl came here together with police and said she knew who broke in because she was a part of it,” Veiseth told Dagbladet. “We have now heard that some of them went into the area around here and placed the birds in nature, but they are refusing to say where.”
The three stolen chicks are the only Humboldt penguins to have been born in Atlanterhavsparken aquarium this year
“Three is the most that we have ever had. It was the whole years' litter,” Tor Erik Standal told VG. We still have one egg, but we don’t know if it is fertilized or not.”