The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil Spill, and the Inspiring Story of the World's Largest Animal Rescue
On June 23, 2000, a ship foundered off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. The area in which it sank, located between two of the main breeding colonies of the African penguin, threatened approximately 75,000 penguins, more than 40 percent of the world’s population. Within hours after the ship sank, heavily oiled penguins began to stream ashore onto nearby islands and beaches. As parents were unable to return to them, chicks left in the breeding colonies would slowly starve to death. The rapidly overwhelmed penguin rehabilitation center in Cape Town put out an international call for help to the zoo and aquarium network, and deNapoli, a penguin keeper at the New England Aquarium, was among the first group to arrive. Her firsthand account of the rescue of the oiled penguins (all of whom fought against their rescuers), repeated washing of each bird, force-feeding, and guano cleanup plunges the reader into the maelstrom of animal rescue and rehabilitation on such a large scale.
these taxing months, we typically worked 65舑75-hour weeks! And we worried constantly about the newborn chicks, even while at home. During breeding season (or whenever an animal was ailing or extremely old) my co-workers and I shared the same distressing affliction: we would frequently wake in the middle of the night, our minds spinning with worry about the animals back at the aquarium. We would instantly be wide awake and on edge. It wasn舗t even a matter of waking up and then consciously starting
firefighters舗 water brigade, passing box after box of frightened birds from the transport trucks into the bowels of the enormous building. As the boxes were brought inside, they were lined up in neat rows in Room 1, which was the first room on the left upon entering the warehouse. Before long, the vast space was packed wall to wall with boxes. Teams of experienced penguin caretakers opened each box and quickly evaluated the condition of the birds inside. Once each penguin had been given a cursory
舠No it舗s not,舡 she replied more forcefully. 舠It舗s six a.m. and you have to get up now.舡 I was terribly confused by this exchange, but upon looking at my watch I realized that four and a half hours had just passed in what quite literally felt like five seconds. It was the same sensation I舗d had during several surgical procedures when I was younger. Anyone who has had general anesthesia will recognize the total lack of consciousness that I experienced that night. It舗s an entirely different
test the product for safety and efficacy, and she wanted to get an unbiased assessment, so she conducted a covert experiment. Not wanting the staff to be aware that she was testing a new product, she took a heavily oiled gannet舒one on whom the oil had literally hardened into a thick shell舒and secretly sprayed one side of its body with the young man舗s degreaser. After letting the product soak in for a while, she handed the bird off to Charles, her most experienced bird washer, and waited to see
I became adept at finding just the right spot on the foot, but soon I was hitting the vein with regularity, and the blood-drawing process went more quickly. To keep track of each individual, every penguin had a temporary ID band placed on its wing when it was admitted to SANCCOB舒and each white plastic tag had a unique number written on it in indelible marker. A 舠recorder舡 was stationed in the holding pen with us. This person recorded the ID number of the penguin we had just drawn blood from on a