AWOL penguin captured alive and well in Japan

Posted at 05/25/12 12:17 PM

TOKYO, Japan - A penguin on the run from a Tokyo aquarium since early March -- which even outwitted the coastguard in its determined bid for freedom -- was recaptured alive and well Thursday, a report said.

The Humboldt, one of 135 penguins kept at Tokyo Sea Life Park, was recaptured after 82 days on a riverbank about eight kilometers (five miles) from its home, Japan's Kyodo news agency said.

Two of the park's keepers caught the penguin in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, under a bridge over the Edo river after a tip-off call. The penguin had no health problems.

"We're relieved to see the penguin come back alive," said Kazuhiro Sakamoto, vice head of the aquarium, according to Kyodo.

More than 30 sightings of the 60-centimeter (two-foot) penguin had been reported to Tokyo Sea Life Park since it fled, park spokesman Takashi Sugino told AFP last week.

He explained the one-year-old bird had been spotted swimming in various locations around Tokyo Bay but was difficult to catch.

Even Japan's coastguard were caught flat-footed by the escapee.

On May 7, two boats with 10 officers on board followed the bird for about an hour before it disappeared from view.

The hunt for the bird -- known only as Penguin Number 337 -- began in early March after it was spotted bathing in a river that runs into Tokyo Bay.

Keepers believe the creature made its break for freedom after being startled into climbing over a rock twice its size.

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