A pair of opportunistic Welshman and a teenage friend broke into a Sea World marine park in Queensland, Australia, and swam with dolphins before stealing a fairy penguin named Dirk and taking it back to their hotel room.
The two men, aged 20 and 21, and a teenager, were said to have had a heavy night out drinking before breaking into Sea World.
The BBC quoted one of the men, Rhys Jones, as saying: "Still a bit fuzzy about the whole thing, but on behalf of the three of us we are very sorry. It was just a prank which went way too far.
"We are all three of us sorry to Sea World for the time lost in them searching for Dirk and we're glad he's all right."
The trio have been charged with trespassing, stealing and unlawfully keeping a protected animal.
The seven-year-old penguin, which has never lived in the wild, was eventually found near the park and is now back at Sea World with his girlfriend, Peaches.
Sea World management said they had received a call from a member of the public who saw the penguin being chased out of an estuary near the park, possibly by a shark, and then being chased back in by a dog.
A spokeswoman for Queensland Police said: "Three men have been charged after allegedly stealing a penguin from a Gold Coast aquarium.
"Police believe the men gained access to the enclosure at a Main Beach address overnight.
"Information from a member of the public led police to an address where they took the men into custody earlier this afternoon.
"All three men, an 18-year-old, 20-year-old and 21-year-old, have been charged."
ABC reporter Tom Forbes told BBC Radio Wales: "The day after they were arrested they were quite remorseful. These are a couple of guys who had a big night out and will probably get a rap over the knuckles."