Wild Animals/Do penguins exist?


I was hoping you could resolve a dispute between myself and my ex-girlfriend. She says that penguins are a genuine living creature, but I have been told that they are a mythical half bird half fish invented by an advertising company to sell chocolate bars. On the grounds that birds can fly, while penguins can't, but they can swim, like fish, I feel that logic is on my side but my ex won't accept this, claiming that she has seen penguins at the zoo (I believe this may be false memory, or possibly the use of animatronic puppets to perpetuate the myth). So, quite simply, do penguins really exist?

Dear Danny,

While you submit a compelling argument for the nonexistence of penguins, I must inform you that your ex-girlfriend is correct in this case. I'm afraid she wins this one, flippers down.

As an addendum, might I suggest that, using the same logic, a better question may be whether or not your ex-girlfriend really exists. You have implied that she is a genuine, living creature; however a little birdie (could've been a penguin) told me that she's really a mythical creature invented by a conglomeration of advertising companies to sell beer and shiny red sports cars.

It's possible that your ex may actually be the false memory here, or perhaps the use of an inflatable...well, you know...has enabled you to perpetuate the illusion of having an actual girlfriend. In which case, we would have a false memory having a possible false memory, which is some sort of weird double negative that I imagine can only happen in an alternate universe. My guess is that they would then cancel each other out, making your question moot.

So, in summation, to get a more lucid answer to the question behind your question, I might suggest you resubmit it to an expert who's well versed in philosophy or mythology, or perhaps quantum physics. Maybe one of these experts could be of more help here. Or maybe they don't exist either...

Good luck,

Dyan deNapoli - The Penguin Lady
TED speaker and author of The Great Penguin Rescue

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Dyan deNapoli


I ONLY ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT PENGUINS. As a recognized penguin expert, I can authoritatively answer any questions about penguins - from biology, behavior, conservation, habitat or the impacts of global warming, to working in an aquarium setting and husbandry management etc. AGAIN, I ANSWER PENGUIN QUESTIONS ONLY - IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT OTHER ANIMALS, PLEASE ASK A DIFFERENT EXPERT. Thank you!


I was a Senior Penguin Aquarist at the New England Aquarium in Boston for nine years, where I co-managed a colony of seventy penguins. I have extensive experience hand-rearing penguin chicks, managing colony health, understanding penguin behavior, and educating the public about penguins. I've been the guest penguin expert on numerous television and radio shows in the US and abroad, have been the content reviewer for three books about penguins, and have spoken at national and international conferences. I have spoken at four TEDx conferences - my TEDx talk about the Treasure oil spill rescue is featured on the main TED website. It can been viewed at https://www.ted.com/talks/dyan_denapoli_the_great_penguin_rescue. In the summer of 2000, I worked as a rehabilitation manager during the rescue of 40,000 African penguins from an oil spill. I wrote an award-winning book about this event, THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE, which Simon & Schuster published in October of 2010. In 2006, I founded an educational company called THE PENGUIN LADY, which is devoted to raising awareness and funding to help protect threatened and endangered penguin species. I provide on-site programs about penguins for children and adults, and donate a portion of the proceeds from every appearance to penguin rescue groups.

National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), Massachusetts Marine Educators Association (MMEA), Association of Zoos & Aquariums, International Zoo Educators Association, Author's Guild, International Women's Writing Guild, North Shore Women in Business (NSWIB), North Shore Business Forum, Mount Ida Veterinary Technology Accreditation Committee, Mensa International

On October 26, 2010, Simon & Schuster's Free Press imprint published THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE, a book that I wrote about the remarkable rescue of 40,000 penguins from the Treasure oil spill in South Africa. I worked as a rehabilitation supervisor during this historic event. More than 12,500 volunteers labored for three grueling months, after which 95% of the penguins were successfully released back into the wild. THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE has won several literary awards, and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other stores and online retailers. I authored the Penguin chapter for Scholastic Publishing's New Book of Knowledge Encyclopedia (NBK) in 2008, which is also available online at Grolier. (Most libraries have free access to this database.) I wrote the feature cover story (about the Treasure oil spill rescue) for the January 2011 The Mensa Bulletin. A link to that article, title Rescued Treasure, is here: http://www.us.mensa.org/AML/assets/Publications/Bulletin/Samples/rescuedtreasure/index.html I've had several articles published online, as well as in Mused Literary Magazine. A paper that I wrote about the New England Aquarium's penguin outreach program was published in the AZA conference proceedings journal in 1998.

BS in Animal Science from Mount Ida College in 1996, AZA Conservation Education School - NC State University 1999, PADI Scuba certified in 1995

Awards and Honors
Distinguished Alumni Award from Mount Ida College in 2002 for outstanding contributions in the sciences - award given in recognition of work done as a rehabilitation manager during the rescue of 20,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Mount Ida College in 1996 - awarded for Exceptional Achievement in the Sciences at graduation ceremonies

Past/Present Clients
Numerous schools, colleges, libraries, museums, cruise ships, assisted living facilities, rotary clubs and more. I've been the onboard penguin expert/guest lecturer on nature cruises to the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica. I've also been the guest on numerous TV and radio programs, including CNN, BBC, CBC Radio-Canada, ABC Radio Australia. and Sierra Club Radio. If you wish to obtain specific names or locations, please contact me via e-mail or through my website at www.thepenguinlady.com

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