Penguin and Seabird Rescue Project

memories for a lifetime

Penguin & Seabird Rescue Project

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) was established in 1968 and is a non-profit organisation 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 almost 50 years, SANCCOB has treated more than 95 000 seabirds and independent research confirms that SANCCOB’s oil spill response actions alone have increased the African population by 19%. In a non-spill year, SANCCOB treats up to 2 500 seabirds, of which approximately 1 500 are African penguins.

SANCCOB (Table View centre) is situated on the banks of the City of Cape Town’s Table Bay Nature Reserve – Rietvleisection in a residential neighbourhood called Table View, approximately 20km from Cape Town.

With a limited staff component, SANCCOB relies heavily on the support of volunteers to achieve the mission of the organisation. Volunteers become an extension of the staff and are an integral part of the daily running of the centres. Not only do volunteers assist with the hands-on work with the seabirds, but also provide assistance in all functions of the centre such as marketing, procurement and fundraising.

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 Project details

  • Arrival Day – Saturday 
  • Time – Your flight can land anytime on Saturday 
  • Airport – Cape Town International Airport 
  • Orientation – Saturday – Sunday. Free Day on Monday 
  • Project Starts – Tuesday
  • Departure Day – Saturday 
  • Departure time – You can depart anytime 
  • Min Duration – 6 weeks (incl 2 day Orientation)
  • Min Age: 18
  • Max Age: N/A – Medium Level of fitness required


You can also be collected at any hotel or place of accommodation on your arrival day, should it be within close radius of the city center or airport

  • Maintaining a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness in the rehabilitation centre
  • Scrubbing and cleaning of bird enclosures, mats, crates and swimming pools
  • Cleaning of equipment used in food preparation and feeding
  • Washing and drying of laundry
  • Assisting in maintaining the permanent bird exhibit (scrubbing rocks, raking sand and food preparation)
  • Defrosting and preparing fish for a variety of seabird species
  • Catching and handling of different seabird species
  • Feeding (force feeding and free feeding) of different seabird species
  • Hydrating (tubing) different seabird species
  • Administering medication to different seabird species
  • Assisting with bird release preparation
  • Centre maintenance duties

A monthly schedule is compiled by the Volunteer Coordinator, where volunteers will be scheduled to work a maximum of 5 days per week (including weekends and public holidays).

A normal working day is from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm* with a lunch break 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm and a short tea break in the morning at 11:00am and afternoon at 3:30pm (times may vary depending on capacity needs and bird numbers at the centre).

*Some days may require volunteers to assist until 6:30 pm, so your willingness to go the extra mile during the busy times will be crucial.

The different areas a volunteer could be assigned to each day are:

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 high-pressure hose. Example mats from bird enclosures and bird crates.

Aviary – Enclosures designated for flying birds that require daily cleaning of the enclosure and feeding of the birds (free feeding). Some birds may require hydration (tubing), medication or force-feeding.

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 and feeding birds (force feeding). Some birds may require hydration (tubing) and medication.

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.

re-organising storage spaces, donation sorting etc.

  • A completed Application and Indemnity form
  • No previous experience is required
  • Have an up to date tetanus vaccination
  • A good understanding of the English language is essential
  • Physically fit and able to stand for a full shift
  • Comfortable with getting dirty and willing to work in all weather conditions, frequently outside
  • Able to work in a team as well as independently
  • Be reliable and accountable and able to follow Standard Operating Procedures
  • Compassionate and caring nature with a love for seabirds

** Be aware that this is not for the faint-hearted. The birds in our care are wild and will bite at any opportunity. Learning how to work with birds is a bit like riding a bike….the more you practice the better you become. Potential volunteers should, therefore, know that commitment is key to learning how to handle and feed birds.

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). Male and female volunteers will share rooms unless otherwise requested. 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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