Dyan deNapoli

Dyan deNapoli, better known as ‘The Penguin Lady’, is a penguin expert, TED speaker, and author of the award-winning book, The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil Spill, and the Inspiring Story of the World’s Largest Animal Rescue. In 2005, after working closely with penguins for nine years at Boston’s prestigious New England Aquarium, she launched her educational company, The Penguin Lady, to teach audiences worldwide about penguin biology, behavior, and conservation. Dyan shares her expertise and enthusiasm for penguins with adults and children of all ages at schools, colleges, museums, libraries, conferences, assisted living facilities, and on nature cruises. She donates 20% of the proceeds from her book and from every appearance to penguin rescue, research, and conservation groups.

During her career as a Senior Penguin Aquarist, Dyan co-managed the New England Aquarium’s colony of 69 penguins, hand-reared dozens of penguin chicks, gave daily lectures about penguins to thousands of aquarium visitors, and brought penguins to underserved schools as part of an educational outreach program. DeNapoli was the content reviewer for three books about penguins, a presenter at national and international conferences, and traveled throughout the Southern Hemisphere to work with penguin researchers in the field. To date, she has taught more than 500,000 people worldwide about penguins.

The highlight of Dyan’s career was serving as part of a team of penguin experts that flew to South Africa to save 40,000 African penguins from the Treasure oil spill. Dyan worked as a rehabilitation manager during this dramatic rescue, which took three months and more than half a million hours of volunteer labor to complete. This historic event still stands as the largest and most successful animal rescue ever undertaken. Due to the tremendous international response to the crisis (more than 12,500 inexperienced volunteers came to Cape Town to help), 95% of the penguins were successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

DeNapoli’s book about this remarkable undertaking, The Great Penguin Rescue, was released by Simon & Schuster’s Free Press in 2010 to favorable reviews. The New York Post put it on their required reading list, calling it a “real-life eco-thriller with a happy ending.” The Great Penguin Rescue was a Silver Award winner in the 2011 Nautilus Book Awards, was selected as a “Must-Read” book in the 2011 Massachusetts Book Awards, and was named “One of the best natural history books of 2010” by Library Journal.

Dyan’s TEDxBoston talk about the penguin rescue has been translated into dozens of languages and has been viewed nearly 350,000 times on www.TED.com. She gave her second TEDx talk, Dare to Believe in Your Dreams, at TEDxSpence in January 2014, and will be speaking at her 3rd and 4th TEDx events this fall. In 2013, Dyan wrote and narrated a lesson about penguin conservation for TED-Ed. The animated video, Penguins: Popularity, Peril and Poop, has had over 115,000 views on YouTube and on www.ed.ted.com.

DeNapoli graduated Summa Cum Laude from Mount Ida College with a BS in Animal Science. She was awarded for Exceptional Achievement in the Sciences upon graduation, and received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Sciences in 2002. In 2008, she authored the Penguins chapter for Grolier/Scholastic Publishing’s New Book of Knowledge encyclopedia. She has served as the onboard penguin expert on nature cruises to Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands, and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows in the US and abroad, including CNN’s Situation Room, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Witness, CBC Radio-Canada, and ABC Radio Australia.

All Things Penguin
September 2014