Fairy Penguin
Fairy penguins, also known as little penguins, are native to Australia. WikiMedia Commons

The mystery of a penguin that went missing in the middle of the night several days ago from a Sea World theme park in Australia has been revealed -- it was the British!

Three unidentified Welsh men -- ages 18, 20 and 21 -- have been accused of breaking into Sea World on Queensland's Gold Coast, where they allegedly swam with the dolphins in their underwear and absconded away with a hapless little fairy penguin named Dirk, according to the Daily Mail.

It is not clear whether the young men might have been under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substances, but it appears that they had second thoughts about the penguin-napping upon waking to find Dirk waddling around his alleged captors.

Dirk was released into a canal. The seven-year-old penguin had been bred in captivity and it was his first excursion into the so-called wild.

He was discovered by an Australian couple passing by the canal a day later.

They heard a scuffle in the water, and this penguin came out onto the sand, Trevor Long, Sea World's director of marine sciences, told the Mail. They thought it was very, very unusual, so they got on to their iPhone and googled 'lost penguin.' That came up with the story, and from there they were able to contact us.

Dirk was soon rescued by Sea World staff, after a harrowing ordeal in which the passers-by claimed he was chased out of the water by something threatening, perhaps a shark, and then chased back in by a snarling dog.

Dirk is nonetheless not the worse for wear, and is reportedly back in his pen safe and sound with his mate Peaches.

As for the three Welsh men, they were caught days later after mentioning the midnight escapade on Facebook, and have been charged with trespassing, stealing and unlawfully keeping a protected animal, the Mail reported.

The Mail reported one of the accused men as saying: We're really sorry for all the trouble we've caused.