The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil Spill, and the Inspiring Story of the World's Largest Animal Rescue
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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.
180 Marine and Coastal Management (MCM), 67, 68, 77, 149舑50, 225, 232, 243 Marine and Aquatic Pollution Control section of, 73 Oil Pollution Unit of, 68 Mead, Margaret, 238 Meijer, Rick, 208 Melkbosstrand, 63, 68 Meob Bay, 240 Mercury Island, 44, 240, 242 Meyers, Mike, 68, 77 Miami Seaquarium, 22 Mike (volunteer), 193 Milnerton, 215 Milnerton Beach, 241 Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, 241 Mirran, Mandy, 84舑85, 86舑87 monofilament fishing lines, 46 Monty舗s, 163 Mount
directed the Treasure to enter Table Bay for a closer look, and on Wednesday, June 21, a more comprehensive inspection was conducted. During this second inspection, a ragged hole, roughly 35 by 90 feet, was discovered in the ship舗s hull. The question now facing authorities was: What should be done with the disabled carrier? The Treasure clearly needed to be repaired, but where and how would those repairs be conducted? The Treasure was too large to be towed into Cape Town Harbour, so SAMSA
would have to start moving the penguins off Dassen the next day to keep them from starving or getting oiled. The massive evacuation was soon under way. They devoted the next three days (July 2舑4) to collecting clean penguins for transport to Cape Recife. After removing as many clean birds as they could from Dassen Island, rescue workers collected any oiled adults for rehabilitation and released the remaining penguins to allow them to hunt. They could only hope and pray that these birds would not
Dianne舗s first time caring for oiled penguins. As a young girl, she had been on vacation with her family at the shore when they came across a penguin that was covered with oil. Her father, an avid bird lover, couldn舗t just leave the penguin on the beach to die, so he wrapped it up and brought it to where they were staying. He had a lot of experience rehabilitating birds, so he put the penguin into the bathtub and, using dishwashing detergent, washed the thick oil from its feathers. Dianne and her
I stood under the hot shower washing the stench of the warehouse from my weary body, I marveled at how I had arrived at this moment in time and history. I mentally traced the events and decisions in my life that had brought me to this extraordinary juncture. There was a fleeting moment of panic as I considered how just two of us could possibly manage to run that room with 4,500 oiled penguins in it. Then I climbed into bed, laid my head on the pillow, and, before taking even one full breath, fell