Penguin and Seabird Rescue Helper (min 2 weeks)

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Penguin and Seabird Rescue Helper (min 2 weeks)

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) was established in 1968 and is a non-profit organization whose primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds – especially endangered seabirds like the African penguin. 

In over 50 years, SANCCOB has treated around 100 000 seabirds. In a non-spill year, SANCCOB treats up to 2 500 seabirds, of which approximately 1000 – 1 500 are African penguins. Other seabirds treated by SANCCOB include various Cormorant species (including the endangered Bank and Cape cormorant), the endangered Cape gannet, various species of terns; pelagic birds such as albatrosses and petrels, oystercatchers, gulls, pelicans and other coastal seabirds that are found in the region. On average, SANCCOB admits between 24 and 30 different seabird species for rehabilitation per year.” 

SANCCOB (Table View centre) is situated on the banks of the City of Cape Town’s Table Bay Nature Reserve – Rietvlei section in a residential neighbourhood called Table View, approximately 20km from Cape Town. SANCCOB (Gqeberha centre) is situated in the Cape Recife nature reserve, the centre is approximately 12km from the centre of Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.

Details about the project

What's included

Upon arrival you will be collected from the airport and driven to your accommodation for your 2 Day Cape Town Orientation. On the start day of your project you will be transferred to your accommodation for the duration of your project.


24 hour support and supervision 


Room share with other volunteers

Food & Beverages

Three meals a day, coffee & tea included

Details about the project

Penguin and Seabird Rescue Helper details

  • Arrival Day – Saturday 
  • Time – Your flight can land anytime on Saturday 
  • Airport – Cape Town International Airport 
  • Orientation – Saturday – Sunday. 
  • Project Starts – Monday
  • Departure Day – Saturday 
  • Departure time – You can depart anytime 
  • Min Duration – 2 weeks (incl 2 day Orientation)
  • Min Age: 18
  • Max Age: N/A – Medium Level of fitness required
  • Maintaining a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness in the rehabilitation centre 
  • Cleaning of equipment used in food preparation and feeding 
  • Cleaning of equipment used in food preparation and feeding 
  • Assisting in maintaining the permanent bird exhibit (scrubbing rocks, raking sand and food preparation)
  •  Defrosting and preparing fish for a variety of seabird species
  •  Centre maintenance duties 
  • Home pen scribing duties
  •  ** Please note that duties are issued based on the volunteer’s experience
  • Food Preparation Kitchen – Area responsible for fish defrosting, preparation of fluids/formula and cleaning of food preparation and feeding equipment.
  • Laundry – Area responsible for the washing and drying of laundry.
  •  Cleaning Station – Area responsible for cleaning of large equipment with the use of a highpressure hose. Example mats from bird enclosures and bird crates. 
  • Aviary – Enclosures designated for flying birds that require daily cleaning of the enclosure.
  • Intensive Care Unit – Staff and interns are mostly responsible for the care of birds in the ICU, but volunteers could be asked to assist with cleaning in ICU.
  •  Rehabilitation pens – Main enclosures for birds undergoing rehabilitation, mostly African penguins. Areas require daily cleaning. 
  • Home Pen – Exhibit for permanent and long-term temporary birds at SANCCOB. Assisting in maintenance of the exhibit, include scrubbing rocks, raking sand and food preparation. 
  • Jobs – Various jobs required around the centre, crucial in the daily running of the rehabilitation centre. Jobs could include general maintenance or cleaning duties.
  • Submit a Volunteer Application and Indemnity Form
  • Be at least 18 years of age 
  • Consult your doctor before volunteering if you are pregnant, on medication or allergic to animal dander, or detergent. 
  • Persons with chronic respiratory ailments or impaired kidneys or liver should avoid working around crude oil
  • Have an up-to-date tetanus vaccination 
  • Be fit and healthy enough to stand and work for at least 8 hours per day 
  • A good understanding of the English language is essential 
  • Be cooperative and work as a team at all times.

Volunteers will stay in one of our volunteer houses with bedrooms sleeping 2 – 5 people. All houses are facilitated with electricity, WIFI, hot water, a kitchen, one or two toilets, a bathroom with a shower, beds with linen (no towels). Upgrades to private single or double rooms are available at extra cost.

Volunteers are responsible for keeping their own room and volunteer house tidy. Bathrooms and kitchens are cleaned every day by cleaning staff, and linen is changed once a week. The volunteer houses are at walking distance from shops, restaurants, entertainment, bus stops, and the beach.


Activity level


Education level


Involvement level


Independence level

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