Episode 105- The Penguin Lady, Dyan DeNapoli

If you could do a career switch, what would you want to do? Would you go for what is a safe, sure thing, or would you pursue your true passion? Luckily, we found just the career we were looking for: interviewing professional naked croquet course designers. Don’t worry — we have that market cornered, but there are plenty of other fascinating jobs out there.

For this week’s episode, we spoke with Dyan deNapoli, aka “The Penguin Lady.” She has one of the most fascinating careers out there, and we should know. While we’ve talked with a lot of people who have unusual jobs, she is a stand out. Dyan decided to switch careers in her early 30s and after a lot of hard work she became a penguin aquarist at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Don’t tell the penguins, but at first Dyan wanted to study dolphins. But after working with penguins during an externship she made the switch. And now we’re imagining some sort of rumble after dark between the dolphins and the penguins for Dyan’s attention. (Question we’re kicking ourselves for not asking her: “Do penguins at the New England Aquarium have Boston accents? Or do they have more of a general New England cadence? Now we’ll never know how they pronounce, “park” and “Harvard.”)

Dyan now travels the world as The Penguin Lady, devoting her life to helping save penguins. She works to draw attention to all penguins, especially including those who are endangered, or almost so, because of all the threats they are facing — especially from global warming and overfishing. We’re guessing most of you have a favorite kind of penguin, whether you learned about them from Mr. Popper, Batman, Morgan Freeman, or your yearly trek to the Antarctic. Or maybe you learned about them from Dyan’s TED Talk, National Geographic, the article about her with BBC Earth, or even her book. Whichever way, in our interview Dyan provided ways we all can help keep penguins protected and thriving in their own colonies.

And if you need more of an incentive to check out this episode, penguin poop and space are mentioned in the same sentence. Truthfully, that should be all you need. Dyan also shared some thought-provoking stories about her involvement with the Treasure Rescue in South Africa, where she and her colleagues rescued 40,000 penguins from an oil spill. Would you like to know which cleanser is the best degreaser? You’ll have to listen to find out. How about why she thinks penguins are so particularly appealing to people? Tune in. Which type of penguin is The Penguin Lady’s favorite? You know what to do…

Dyan shared some riveting stories and some funny ones, too. She even told us about how a 17-year-old teenager’s invention helped save the penguins of the Treasure Rescue. We won’t give away exactly what he did, but let’s just say we’re not sure we were that globally impactful at the edge of 17. Locally impactful, sure. Nationally impactful, maybe? (It depends on which family member you ask.)

If you’d like to learn more about Dyan and her work to bring awareness and funding to protect all penguins, go to her website. There, you can also watch her TED Talk and purchase her book. You can also follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. But before you do all that, sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s episode with The Penguin Lady.


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