After blaming high school students caught on security cameras partying in the car park of Ålesund aquarium on Friday night, staff on Monday decided to do a new search, finding the chicks were in fact still in their nesting boxes, buried under twigs and grass.
Axel Lange, a lawyer for one of the accused students, said that the discovery backed up his client's story.
“This confirms that my client has explained to the police, that he has not taken any penguins out of Ålesund aquarium,” he told NRK. “I think it's very, very unfortunate that Ålesund aquarium pointed to the russ as soon as the penguins disappeared.”
In Norway, high school students in their final spring term traditionally hold the so-called “russ” celebrations, which see them marauding in drunken groups, wearing outlandish costumes and playing drunken pranks.
However, aquarium head Tor Erik Standal refused to apologise, arguing that if the students entered the aquarium, they could still have been responsible for deaths by panicking the penguin parents causing them to trample their young.
“Now we see that there has been in a situation where the penguins were very upset,” he said.