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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil spill and the Inspiring Story of the World's Largest Animal Rescue by Dyan deNapoli

On June 23, 2000, the iron ore carrier MV "Treasure "foundered off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, spilling 1,300 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.
Summary taken from
Length: 304 pages (hardcover edition)
Source: Toronto Public Library
Publication Date: October 26th 2010

African "Jackass" "Donkey" Penguin

First off I have to say that the little guy in the picture above is the sweetest thing, since this book is kind of heavy (subject matter wise) I thought it would do you all good to see what exactly is at risk if things do not change.

I love animals. I love Africa. I love reading about both and most importantly I enjoy reading about the efforts people are taking to help save our fellow animals in their times of need. I think that it's important. Remaining ignorant of the plight of our animal brethren is 100% not the right way to go about things. In fact I'm convinced that if certain changes do not occur...we'll be too late. So the fact that I was able to get my hands on this book made me happy. When the Treasure sank on June 23rd 2000 I had just turned 10 years old a few weeks before, and I remember still 12 years later seeing reports in the paper and on the television about the plight of the oil spill and the hardships the penguins and their rescuers were facing. Since then I've always wondered what really happened...and how the penguins fared. Unfortunately life got in the way and it took me until last week to finally find out what happened.

Dyan deNapoli wrote a wonderful tell all book about the ups and downs of rescuing 40,000 penguins who without the help of the more than 12,500 volunteers would have perished otherwise. What I loved most about her book and the way that she wrote it is that she did not make herself the focus as others would tend to do in writing a book on their experiences. Instead she paid an awesome tribute to all who participated in this monumental and miraculous rescue that is the biggest rescue of any animal species ever accomplished.

Yes she told her story and shared her experiences but she also shared stories from other volunteers. She didn't toot her own horn or make her contribution to the rescue seem more important than others. She writes with respect, and completely honesty that her part in the rescue was neither greater nor lesser than the other 12,500 people that volunteered their time to come and help save half of the worlds population of the African Penguin.

The 12,500 that volunteered came from all over the planet. At the time that the schools in South Africa were closed for vacation and so there was an outpouring of students who volunteered. The young, the old, the rich, and the poor people of South Africa came from all over the country. Then there were the international volunteers that came on their own dime to help save the animals. The support from the international community was amazing! To read about all these people coming together in a country where the apartheid regime was still in practice 6 years before was wonderful because it didn't matter what colour a person's skin was, people from all walks of life volunteered to help the penguins and put up with the most menial tasks like cleaning the guano (poop) off of the pools where the penguins were kept. Another hazard of working with these animals is that they have rather sharp beaks. I have two budgies as pets and when they bite they draw when you take into consideration that they're about the size of a hamster and then you think of how large these penguins are it really puts into perspective how nasty and formidable their beaks are.

This is a truly inspiring book about how strong we don't realize we are until fate puts us in a situation in which our abilities, and limitations are tested. Dyan's were severly tested while she was working in South Africa to aid in the rescue. She was there for 18 days and came home 20 pounds lighter, a whole lot more bruised, scared and weary. The physical toll was nothing compared to the emotional and mental toll that effected her as well as other rescuers. In pushing themselves to the limits of their abilities they were left with the after effects of being emotionally drained would follow some volunteers around for years to come.

I highly recommend that you check out this book, learning is the key to keeping this planet of ours clean and healthy. The oilspill that occured on that fateful day in 2000 has been repeated many times all over the world and it is up to us to ensure that the waters are safe for us and the animals that we have been charged with being the caretakers for. They do not have the ability to help themselves and because of that the responsibility of that falls on our shoulders. Without the help of organizations like SANCCOB and IFAW as well numerous others the rescue would not have been as successful as it was. If people can continue to come together with a single goal much can be achieved and learned. The rescue of 40,000 wild penguins is proof of that.

This book will teach you things about the world that you probably didn't know. Upon reading this I had no real knowledge of the African Penguin but since reading it I feel smarter and more well informed about this little creature that while highly vocal also poses a deep intelligence that I think we should attrribute to all animals. This book will help restore your faith in humanity if you are in need of that, it certainly did for me. I'd like to thank Dyan for writing this book and educating the world on the plight of penguins, as well as giving a stunning tribute to all those who volunteered. I hope this isn't the last we hear from her in terms of writing because her words were eloquently written. Hopefully one day I'll get to thank her in person, but until then I'll be content with her maybe reading this one day and knowing that I appreciate her efforts and all those who helped in the rescue.
To purchase the book CLICK HERE
To visit Dyan's website CLICK HERE
To visit Dyan's Facebook Page CLICK HERE
To visit Dyan's Twitter CLICK HERE
To visit Dyan's blog CLICK HERE
To visit SANCCOB's website CLICK HERE
The links I've provided will get you started in helping out the penguins and learning more about them.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★


  1. Ah, such a sweet review, Kimberly. And I love Penguins! Though this is such a sad real-life story, I hope to find myself reading it some day.

    And thanks for the links!

  2. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought you have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

    Click Here


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