Flightless birds airlifted to cooler waters after finding themselves adrift
More than 370 young penguins, who were mysteriously washed up on tropical beaches in Brazil, have been airlifted to safety in cooler water.
A Hercules military aircraft flew the flightless birds to Pelotas, in south Brazil, where they were released to cheers from a group of spectators.
The young birds were among a thousand Magellanic penguins, which have appeared on Brazil's warm north-east shores over the last few months.
The other birds either died or were too unhealthy to send back.
The healthy penguins, which had been kept at an animal rehabilitation centre in Salvador, north-east Brazil, were flown 2,500km (1,550 miles) south on a plane usually used for transporting military hardware.
They were released with a smaller group of adult penguins that had been rescued after being caught in an oil slick.
Experts from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who helped organise the airlift, hope these older birds will guide young ones south to the Patagonia.
Magellanic penguins breed in large colonies in southern Argentina and Chile, and migrate north as far as south-west Brazil between March and September.
Environmentalists have said it is not known why the penguins were stranded so far north, but suggest they could have been carried beyond their usual range by a flow of warm water.
"We are overjoyed to see these penguins waddle back to the ocean and have a second chance at life," said Valeria Ruoppolo of IFAW.
"Hundreds of penguins died in this unusual event and while media reports have often linked global warming to the penguins' demise, at this point there is no way to know for certain why these animals stranded."