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Escaped penguin outracing Tokyo authorities in bid for freedom

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The escaped penguin, last seen near Tokyo Bay (Photo: Tokyo Sea Life Park)

A determined, young penguin has escaped captivity by reportedly circumventing the walls of the Tokyo Sea Life Park and was last spotted swimming in Tokyo Bay, near the Japanese capital.

"We first noticed the penguin might have fled when the director of a neighboring zoo e-mailed us Sunday with a photo," park official Takashi Sugino told the AFP.

The 1-year-old Humboldt penguin was spotted by the zoo director, where it was bathing in the mouth of the Kyu-Edo river. The zookeeper then snapped a picture of the penguin, who almost appears to be waving to the camera, and sent it to officials at the Tokyo Sea Life Park.

The BBC reports that park officials have had no luck bringing the missing penguin back home. They say the runaway Humboldt travels "at a tremendous speed," making him elusive to park officials. They have been unable to track down the penguin since he was last seen in the photo.

"Since then, we don't have any specific information about the penguin's whereabouts," Takashi Sugino, an official of Tokyo Sea Life Park, told the Japan Times.

Park officials still aren't exactly sure how the young penguin, part of a 134 penguin litter born at the park last year, escaped. The park's aquarium is enclosed by a six foot (2 meter) net they say would be impossible for the penguin to climb over. However, the Japan Times reports that the net has holes in it sometimes used by cats and other animals.

For now, officials have given up trying to beat the penguin with speed.

"It's a bit of a struggle to catch it when it is swimming, because it swims at a tremendous speed," zoo official Takashi Sugino told the AFP. "We are hoping to catch it when it climbs up on land to sleep."

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