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Rehabilitate African Penguins & Seabirds in Cape Town

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Good things come for those who wait

Of course, as in any serious rehab centre, you will start doing only cleaning tasks, so you must be patient. Every morning, each volunteer get designated for an area in the centre, working in groups depending on how many volunteers are there. Sometimes this number can get as high as 30 volunteers and it will feel very much like big company, everything very organized and responsibilities well shared. You can be working in different enclosures with penguins or flying birds, cleaning mats and crates with pressure hosepipe, working in the general area preparing fluids and food, maintaining the home pen – where the unreleasable birds are, helping in nursery or chick rearing unit (both more rare). This rotates everyday, so you will always be doing different stuff. Once you get trained to handle birds, you will be designated to other jobs than just cleaning. Be aware this is not a place for cuddling penguins (at least not for the volunteers), so it’s a lot of hard work and penguins can be quite vicious (always use your protection gear).
Volunteers will be responsible for keeping track of which bird needs what, using a file that is updated daily. So you will learn how to give them fluids, medication and how to feed them. You will also have to clean the pool and perform extra jobs when you have the time, such as cleaning the passages or tidying boxes. The work is done mainly with penguins, but there’s always several flying marine birds that volunteers will also handle.
Volunteers get 15 minutes tea break during the morning and one hour lunch time. They must bring their own lunch – at sanccob there’s only a vending machine and no restaurants nearby.
Sanccob offers daily tours for the public and that can get in the way of volunteers sometimes, specially with the cleaning part, once they have to interrupt their tasks now and then because of the noise. And the amount of water that is used and sometimes wasted by volunteers and staff members can be very very upsetting for those who are more aware.
They make sure every volunteer goes on a penguin release before leaving, so they can get the entire experience of rehabilitation and reintroduction.
There’s a high rotativity of volunteers, sometimes there are many and the work gets easily done and sometimes there are very few and you have to share tasks and really work together and hard to get everything done. Due to this high rotativity, staff can seem a little bit away, but if the group is smaller you will get to know them better and they will start to trust you more and you can learn a lot from them.
Sanccob is very open to suggestions and is constantly seeking for improvements. So don’t be afraid to talk to them if you think something can be done better.