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Norwegian police suspect 4 in penguin theft from animal park

Humbolt penguins seen in their habitat at an aquarium in Aalesund on Norway's west coast, Friday May 15, 2015. Authorities say at least four Norwegian teenagers are suspected of stealing a Humboldt penguin egg and three newly-hatched babies from an animal park in mid-Norway. A police spokesman said Friday four have confessed trespassing but deny theft. They face fines or prison of up to one year if convicted. (Marius Simensen/NTB scanpix via AP) NORWAY OUT

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Authorities say at least four Norwegian teenagers are suspected of stealing a Humboldt penguin egg and three newly-hatched penguin babies from an animal park in western Norway.

Police spokesman Yngve Skovly says seven people were seen on a security video climbing over a fence late Wednesday to enter an enclosure where the three-week-old babies lived at the Atlanterhavsparken saltwater aquarium outside Aalesund.

Skovly said Friday that four students confessed to trespassing but deny theft. They face fines or up to one year in prison if convicted. The vocational school students had visited the park earlier Wednesday.

Police said the suspects were aged between 18 and 19, but declined to comment on whether the crime was believed to be linked to graduation celebrations.

In Norway, high school students celebrate their graduation in May with weeklong parties that often include drunkenness, pranks and dares.

Park manager Tor Erik Standal told The Associated Press he feared the penguin babies were dead by now because they “desperately need their parents to survive.”

The penguin babies that weigh about 300 grams (10.5 ounces) each, “should have been in their nest for a couple of weeks more before going outside,” Standal said.

The theft was discovered Thursday morning, and about 100 people, some with dogs, searched for the penguins.

The Humboldt penguins breed in Chile and Peru.

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