Fugitive Penquin on the Lamb
TOKYO (Reuters) – Many feared the worst for a one-year-old Humboldt penquin after a daring escape from a Tokyo aquarium and vanished into the waters of Tokyo Bay two months ago.
The penguin, still too young to determine whether it is male or female and known only by number 337, scaled a rock wall 13 ft high and squeezed through a barbed wire fence to escape its harborside aquarium in March.
But Penguin 337 has popped up on video footage in a different part of the bay, near Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge, frolicking in the water and apparently healthy.
”You can see it’s got the same ring around its flipper and identical facial patterns,” said Kazuhiro Sakamoto, deputy director of the Tokyo Sea Life Park, when shown footage of the chubby escapee taken by Japan’s Coast Guard.
“It didn’t look like it has gotten thinner over the past two months, or been without food. It doesn’t seem to be any weaker. So it looks as if it’s been living quite happily in the middle of Tokyo Bay.” The area around the aquarium consists of high-rise apartment buildings and concrete and the bay is a crowded and busy body of water bordering the densely-populated city.
Many people had worried the water was too dirty for the bird to stay healthy. Recent reports of rising radiation levels in the bay have prompted concern.
The bird is probably gorging on small fish in the bay during daylight hours and returning to the shore at night to rest somewhere along the bay, keepers said.
The penguin, hatched in 2011, had shared life in a rocky outdoor enclosure at the aquarium with 135 other Humboldts and a number of other penguins prior to its escape. Sakamoto attributed its flight to a sense of adventure.