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Wild Animals/Animal Careers with Penguins


Hello! I am Joseph and I am currently doing a research project on how to get an animal career with any animal. I was wondering how would I be able to get a job with penguins and what those jobs are. As well as knowing the qualifications for starting a career with penguins. Even the certain aspects of the job will help me. Thank you very much for your help and knowledge!


Hi Joseph,

Thank you for contacting me about your research project. You don't say how old you are, so it's a little bit tricky to answer your question without that information, but I'm guessing you're in junior high or high school, yes? I've actually had several people inquire about this here on AllExperts before, so I'm going to share the link to one of those answers with you. If you have further questions that aren't answered there, please feel free to contact me again.

As for aspects of the job, it's a lot less glamorous than you might think! You work long, hard hours - at the New England Aquarium, we spent several hours a day in wetsuits in the penguin exhibit in chest-deep, freezing cold water. You can't be afraid of getting dirty, as you spend a lot of time scrubbing penguin poop and feeding smelly fish to the birds. During chick-rearing season, you work extra long hours hand-raising the babies. You also need to be good at managing your time, as your days are usually extremely busy. (When I first began working at the NEAq, I had to write down my daily schedule in 15-30 minute increments, so I wouldn't forget to do anything!)

You need excellent observational skills, as much of the health and well being of the penguins is detected through subtle changes in behavior or posture. You also need to be comfortable with public speaking, as you'll spend a lot of time educating the visitors. (I was VERY nervous about this at first, but eventually came to enjoy giving penguin talks - and now I actually make my living as a professional speaker!) It's also important to be able to get along well with other people, as you'll be working as part of a team (as well as interacting with the public) - so it's not only about being good with animals.

If you are interested in doing research in the field instead of working in a zoo or aquarium, you would need to get at LEAST a masters degree - but most likely a doctorate degree.

Good luck with your project! (And the world always needs more penguin scientists, so I hope you become one!)


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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 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: 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

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