Three men are being sought after a penguin was stolen from Dublin Zoo this morning.

The bizarre theft happened at around 8.30am before the zoo opened to the public.

Three men climbed the perimeter fence and entered the penguin habitat, capturing a 10-year-old female named Kelli.

They put her into a sack and left the zoo where they hailed a taxi passing through the Phoenix Park.

They told the driver they had a rabbit with them and he dropped them in Dublin's north inner city.

The penguin was found on Rutland Street and was taken back to the zoo by gardaí from Store Street.

Kelli was returned to the penguin habitat after a vet inspection found she had no injuries.

In a statement this afternoon, Dublin Zoo said it 'is naturally relieved that the animal is safe and unharmed'.

However, they underlined their annoyance about the incident saying it 'is not frivolous and is certainly not something amusing'.

Gardaí are now hunting for the men involved.