Dyan deNapoli have a lifelong mission – to save the world’s penguins.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified several penguin species as threatened or endangered. Penguin populations are continuously decreasing year after year, with 13 of the 19 species at risk of going extinct.

Dyan “Penguin Lady” deNapoli | 📸 Logan Schmidt

Habitat loss is the number one threat to penguins, thanks to climate change, attacks from other animals, and oil pollution – from which deNapoli rescued about 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa.

The iron ore carrier MV Treasure broke down on June 23, 2000 and spilled 1,300 tons of oil into the ocean, which contaminated the habitat of 75,000 penguins and threatened to kill 41 percent of African penguin’s world population.

Penguins started showing up the next day, covered in oil. | 📸 Alamy

“When I first heard about the Treasure oil spill near Cape Town, I was horrified. This oil spill was located between two of the three main breeding islands for the African penguin (Robben and Dassen islands), home to nearly half of the entire world population of this species, and it was very clear that the size and scope of this spill could have a tremendously negative impact,” DeNapoli has told Guinness World Records in an exclusive interview.

DeNapoli and a team of experts and volunteers came to the rescue to de-oil and nurse back to health the penguins affected by the tragic accident.

Volunteers help in clearing the place. | 📸 Alamy

“We really didn’t know if saving so many penguins was even possible, as there had never been so many oiled birds rescued at once before,” she added. “So the situation was truly critical, and the outcome was definitely uncertain.”

Volunteers de-oiling the penguins. | 📸 Shutterstock

After three months, they managed to save 40,000 penguins from an impending death and released them back into the wild.

Volunteers release the penguins back to the wild. | 📸 Shutterstock

A historical event all over the world, Guinness World Records claims that this also represents the largest number of animals within a species that was ever been rescued and rehabilitated. DeNapoli had toured around the globe to educate and inspire about what happened, as she had been invited as speaker in symposiums, and most notably, the Ted Talks.

Watch what happened here:

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