'Criminal' Penguin Caught on Camera in Antarctica

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on October 20, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Criminal penguins are the worst of their kind, and now there's evidence to prove it.

A crew filming a colony of Adelie penguins on Ross Island, Antarctica captured fascinating footage of penguin theft in action. The video depicts a male penguin stealing stones from a neighbor's nest.

On an island with approximately 250,000 males, it's the best nest that ultimately nets the best mate. Spurred into action by such harrowing odds, the criminal penguin is shown stealing a single rock each time his compatriot turns away.

(Source: BBC)

If you think this post exists solely for its cuteness, think again. The criminal penguin presents a perfect opportunity to discuss the law.

For one, did you know that each rock theft can be charged as a separate crime?

Even though the penguin robs the same nest, he returns and departs a number of times. In some jurisdictions, a crime is terminated when the thief leaves the scene. Each subsequent return would thus be a new crime and a new charge.

Simply put, it's sometimes better to steal everything at once--even if you're forced to carry the goods with your beak.

The video also depicts the criminal penguin attacking a different neighbor. He checks on his nest shortly after venturing away. When he sees a fellow rock robber, he charges forward.

The criminal penguin probably couldn't have shot the robber, but was he entitled to use force?

Most states limit the amount of force one can use to protect property. Force must be reasonable and proportional, and often depends on the property itself.

The criminal penguin certainly wasn't entitled to steal his neighbor's nest, but he surely had a right to protect his own.

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