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Kidnapped penguin Kelli is star of the zoo

THE penguin at the centre of a kidnap ordeal has been the star attraction at Dublin Zoo since her safe return.

The Phoenix Park venue has been inundated with record visitors keen to catch a glimpse of Kelli, who was snatched from her enclosure last Thursday.

Kelli grabbed headlines as far away as Africa and Houston, Texas as media organisations picked up on the sensational tale.

It's believed that up to three men scaled the perimeter fence at around 8.30am, before the zoo opened to the public.

They nabbed the terrified bird and put her in a sack and jumped into a taxi.

Resident Sandra Grimes found Kelli breathing heavily on her doorstep in Rutland Street at 9.25am after she was dumped there.

The quick-thinking mum-of-two filled her bath with an inch of water and put the petrified bird inside.

Staff at the zoo have reported that Kelli is in fine form and "waddling around in great spirits" after being reunited with her fellow Humboldt penguins.

"The zoo has been inundated with messages of support for Kelli and, not surprisingly, the zoo has been very busy with lots of visitors coming in to see Kelli and her penguin pals," a spokesman said.