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On June 23, 2000, the iron ore carrier MV Treasure foundered off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, spilling 1300 tons of oil into the ocean and contaminating the habitat of 75 000 penguins – thus threatening to decimate 41 percent of the world's population of African penguins. A massive rescue effort was launched, with penguin expert Dyan deNapoli – better known as The Penguin Lady – serving as a rehabilitation supervisor. By the end of a grueling, but ultimately rewarding, three months, she and her fellow volunteers had de-oiled, nursed back to health, and released into the wild nearly all of the affected birds. The Great Penguin Rescue is the extraordinary and heartwarming true story of the world's largest and most successful wildlife rescue and a moving portrait of these captivating birds.
Dyan deNapoli's first penguin encounter occurred at the New England Aquarium when she was eight years old. Twenty-six years later she returned as an intern in the penguin department, and was soon hired as staff. In 2000, after 40,000 African penguins were threatened by an oil spill, she flew to South Africa to help supervise the rehabilitation efforts. More than 12,500 volunteers labored for three grueling months, ultimately saving 95% of the penguins in what still stands as the largest and most successful animal rescue ever undertaken. Published by Simon & Schuster in 2010, The Great Penguin Rescue was a Silver Award Winner in the 2010 Nautilus Book Awards, was named a "Must-Read" Book in the 2010 Massachusetts Book Awards, and was listed as "One of the best sci-tech book so 2010" by Library Journal. Part of the proceeds from The Great Penguin Rescue will be donated to penguin rescue and conservation groups.
Dyan's talk about this rescue was featured on TED.com in the summer of 2011. Since 1995, Dyan has taught more than 250,000 people about penguins. As The Penguin Lady, she shares her passion for these engaging seabirds with audiences worldwide. Dyan has appeared on numerous television and radio shows, including CNN's Situation Room, BBC Radio 5 Live, CBC Radio Canada, Sierra Club Radio, and ABC Radio Australia. In 2008, she authored the new penguin chapter for Scholastic Publishing's New Book of Knowledge encyclopedia. She has been the penguin expert and guest lecturer on nature cruises to Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands; she has also traveled to Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa to work with, teach about, and observe penguins in the wild.
"[...] One volunteer from this rehabilitation effort, on seeing some of the rescued birds years later, said: “How often in your life do you get the chance to say you did something right – that you did something that made a real difference? And this made a difference, because these penguins were here.” The Great Penguin Rescue is a powerful story, one that needs to be heard. Not just to find out what occurred in South Africa eleven years ago, but so that we know, even though tragedies like this will keep occurring, there is hope.
However, as deNapoli points out, penguins today are in trouble. You can find up-to-date information on how you can help on the author’s Facebook page. But honestly, one of the best ways to help penguins is to buy this book (the author is donating a significant portion of the proceeds to penguin conservation organizations, and you can find an extensive list of such groups and ways to help in the book). And then share its message with someone else."
- Grant McCreary (02-04-2011), read the full review at The Birder's Library