Unhappy feet: Tropical penguins on the ice

Looking bewildered, five penguins scuttle unsteadily across an ice rink in front of more than 150 screaming children in the UK.

The five were released to perform for the crowds as part of the launch of a pre-Christmas 'Ice Festival' at a shopping centre.

But last night the event's organisers were condemned after it emerged the bewildered penguins were actually Humboldt penguins - tropical birds which will never have seen ice before.

Onlookers said the birds, which usually nest on the warm Pacific coasts of Peru and Chile, spent much of the ten-minute show falling over.

Professor Rory Wilson, of Swansea University, who has studied penguins for 32 years, said: 'Humboldts are a tropical penguin used to a very warm climate in Chile and they will never, ever come across ice in their natural environment. If they looked cold then they probably were.'

A spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said of the event at Liverpool's ONE shopping complex three weeks ago: 'This can only have left them petrified and disoriented.'

Stephen Ware, a vet at Heythrop Zoological Gardens in Oxfordshire, which owns the penguins, said: 'At no time have the penguins exhibited any distress in their surroundings.'

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