Each seabird admitted to SANCCOB receives a clinical examination, after which  a treatment and rehabilitation plan is created based on the condition of the individual patient. Both seabird hospitals in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape of South Africa are well equipped with the following dedicated areas: an admissions room; intensive care unit (ICU) for severely compromised seabirds; outdoor enclosures and swimming pools; a surgical theatre; oiled wash bay; and post-mortem room.  

The rehabilitation process is largely dependent on the individual seabird and its diagnosis; however, generally follows a specific feeding, swimming, medication and treatment schedule for each seabird patient. Depending on the nature of injury, or illness, birds usually spend between 4-16 weeks undergoing rehabilitation before being released back into the wild. During their rehabilitation, staff evaluate the birds weekly on their health, blood results, weight and the waterproofing on their feathers. Prior to release, each penguin receives an implanted transponder which is injected under their skin and is used for research and monitoring purposes post-release. African penguins that meet SANCCOB’s criteria are released weekly into an existing seabird colony, where they are monitored by penguin and seabird rangers. 

Unfortunately, there are seabird patients that do not respond to treatment and subsequently die. A post-mortem is conducted to gain an understanding of the cause of death, to advance disease-related studies and to gain understanding of causes of mortality in the wild. Every effort is made to successfully rehabilitate each seabird and SANCCOB has an 81% release rate of African penguins.