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New Zealand Oil Spill: Rescued Little Penguins Released Into Wild (VIDEO)

First Posted: 12/22/11 06:19 PM ET Updated: 12/22/11 06:22 PM ET

More little penguins tasted freedom last week after they were cleaned of oil from this year's spill in New Zealand.

The October spill, which was caused by a grounded cargo ship, left over two thousand oil-covered birds dead and hundreds in rescuers' hands. In late November, 49 penguins rescued from the spill were returned to the wild.

In the video, one rescuer told the BBC that although some birds are still undergoing rehabilitation, these are the last of the birds from the Mount Maunganui area to be released. He said, "This is a huge relief to our whole team, to get these birds back out again."

The BBC explains that each bird had to pass a blood test and a swimming test before it could be returned the wild.

The oil spill, which released about 400 tons of oil near Northern New Zealand, has been called New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster.

Brazil is also dealing with the aftermath of a serious environmental disaster. The Brazilian government recently announced that it is seeking $10.6 billion in damages from Chevron for an offshore oil spill in November.

Watch the video above of the penguins' release, and check out images from the release here.

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Filed by James Gerken  |