Local and overseas volunteers play an integral part in operations at our Table View (Western Cape) and Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape) centres, providing thousands of hours of much-needed conservation work on a daily basis. Volunteers must be over the age of 18, hard working and passionate about saving seabirds.
For under 18 years: In Cape Town, school-going groups under 18 years of age are accommodated through off-site volunteer experience programmes and Port Elizabeth has specially designed programmes for young people under 18.
INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER PROGRAMME
Get hands-on experience working with endangered African penguins and other seabirds at the world renowned SANCCOB seabird centres in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth in South Africa.
- You must be 18 years and over
- No experience necessary
- Minimum 6 weeks in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth
- Placements all year round, with the busiest time in Cape Town from November to January for chick season.
As an international volunteer you will become an extension of our team of Bird rehabilitators, helping with most handling and feeding tasks.
Unfortunately, SANCCOB does not provide accommodation – but we can recommend accommodation used by many international volunteers in the past.
Your programme fee for a six week period will include a volunteer T-shirt and a seabird release trip (weather and bird permitting). Further information about the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth international volunteer programme is available in the respective documents below.
CAPE TOWN (CT)
CLICK HERE to download the complete Cape Town information pack for international volunteers.
CLICK HERE to download the Cape Town application form as an international volunteer.
For more information to volunteer in CT, please call +27 21 557 6155 or email email@example.com
PORT ELIZABETH (PE)
CLICK HERE to download the complete Port Elizabeth information pack for international volunteers.
CLICK HERE to download the Port Elizabeth application form as an international volunteer.
For more information to volunteer in PE, please call +27 41 583 1830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Local volunteers play an important role at SANCCOB’s centres in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape and are needed 365 days a year to perform tasks such as:
- Assisting with seabird rehabilitation, cleaning and feeding birds
- Driving/collecting seabirds
- General centre maintenance and cleaning
- Answering phones
- Education/behind the scenes tours
Volunteers must be 18 years or older and reside permanently in the Cape Peninsula (Western Cape) or in the local Eastern Cape surrounds. Half day and full day shifts are available week days and over weekends.
Cape Town Information & Application for Local Volunteers
CLICK HERE to download the Local Volunteer Information Pack for Cape Town.
CLICK HERE to download the Local Volunteer Application Form for Cape Town.
For more information, please contact us on +27 21 557 6155 or email email@example.com.
Port Elizabeth Information & Application for Local Volunteers
CLICK HERE to download the Local Volunteer Information Pack for Port Elizabeth.
CLICK HERE to download the Local Volunteer Application Form for Port Elizabeth.
For more information, please contact us on +27 41 583 1830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Port Elizabeth centre in the Eastern Cape offers conservation-focused educational meet ups for young people, which includes a chance to assist with kid-friendly tasks around the centre.
- The Chinstraps Club (12-17 year olds) meets on the first Saturday of each month from 09h00 to 12h00 to learn about recent developments in seabird rehabilitation, as well as to help with cleaning and laundry chores. A beach walk and quiz or card games are often included in the programme of activities and the R50 fee covers a light lunch. Please contact email@example.com for more information and to join the Chinstraps.
- The Little Blues Club (7–11 year olds) gathers on the third Saturday of every month from 09h00 to 12h00 to help with cleaning and laundry chores at the centre. They spend time on the beach collecting litter that washes up and identifying interesting creatures on the shore. The cost is only R50 per child and after a light lunch, they play indoor or outdoor games that encourage cooperation and stimulate environmental interests. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED THROUGH SANCCOB INTERNSHIPS
Our seabird internships are structured, mentored training programmes with a strong focus on skills development – suitable for returning volunteers, university students, graduates, post graduates, employees and volunteers in the fields of animal science, husbandry, care and welfare related fields. Previous experience working with birds is desirable though not essential.
Volunteers who have completed our international volunteer programme are eligible for a 50% discount on all our internship programmes.
Upon acceptance into the programme, all interns are required to pay a refundable R2 000 fee to secure their place. This is refunded in South African Rands after successful completion of the programme.
This course has been developed to prepare participants for a career in bird rehabilitation and conservation. Interns have the opportunity to work with a variety of seabirds.
Depending on the length of your internship, you will learn intermediate to advanced hands-on skills seabird rehabilitation techniques as well as be introduced to other areas such as basic laboratory work, centre management, education and training of others.
The Penguin Nursery internship is focused on caring for bigger chicks, usually weighing 1.5kg or more. These chicks remain in the nursery until they are ready to move to the swimming rehabilitation pens.
The chick rearing internship is focused on egg management and rearing chicks from hatchling to 1.5kg. The course will equip you with seabird breeding and chick husbandry skills needed for a career in captive breeding or seabird chick rearing and conservation.
OTHER TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
ANIMAL PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
Aquarists, penguin & seabird keepers, veterinarians, animal trainers, curatorial and education staff from zoos, aquariums and bird parks all over the world are invited to apply for this programme. It is not only a unique opportunity to learn more about how to care for penguins, but also includes participation in a penguin release (weather permitting).
Participants work side by side with our bird rehabilitation staff and competent volunteers, practicing their current skills and learning how to care for sick, injured, oiled and abandoned African penguins and other seabirds.
If you are an employee of an American Zoo and Aquarium (AZA) or European Zoo and Aquarium (EAZA) accredited institution, contact us about the special professional development programme that we currently offer.
- Programme duration: 2 weeks
- Excludes accommodation – please contact us for a list of accommodation used by previous paticipants.
For more information and to apply for this programme, please email email@example.com.
VETERINARY EXPERIENCE PROGRAMME
The veterinary experience has been developed to expose participants to a career in veterinary medicine.
One week course
International volunteers who are in their pre-clinical year of Veterinary science studies or are interested in a career in veterinary science may elect to add an additional week to their volunteer package in order to participate in the veterinary science experience.
The course is also suitable for South African citizens, aged 17 years or older, who have an interest in veterinary sciences and intend to pursue a career in this field.
Two week course
Qualified veterinarians, vet nurses and veterinary students in their final year of study may apply for this course.
WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE SANCCOB EXPERIENCE
“This is the first penguin release I have been a part of on my adventures to South Africa and it will be a memory that I will cherish forever. To be part of the bigger picture and knowing that we are doing our part to help this endangered species is more than I could have ever imagined.”
– Tracy Camp, senior penguin and pinniped trainer at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, USA
“There was no such thing as a typical day in the weeks we were at SANCCOB. We did a variety of tasks and most days we were on our feet non-stop from 8 am to 5 pm assisting with the treatment, and care of injured and sick birds. Back at the Zoo’s veterinary hospital, we regularly draw and examine the blood samples of the Penguin Coast colony, a skill which proved to be valuable at SANCCOB because we can do it quickly and confidently. We also utilized our experience to lend a hand as SANCCOB’s head veterinarian performed surgeries on injured penguins (leg injuries from seal bites are one of the most common traumas).” Read more…
– Jennifer Sohl and Kaitlin Studer, Veterinary Technicians at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, US
“The range of birds I’ve been able to work with is quite staggering. I’ve hand-reared tiny African penguin and Hartlaub gull chicks. I’ve helped to rehabilitate seabirds ranging in size from the delicate Swift Terns to massive pelicans and giant petrels. I’ve even learned to handle (and been bitten by cormorants). I’ve also had the opportunity to observe species I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to see without a trip to Antarctica, such as the Shy Albatross and the Skua.
As well as rehabilitation work I’ve learned about common diseases and problems in seabirds, and attended a number of releases – which is what makes the whole rehabilitation process worthwhile, long hours, heartbreak and all. There is nothing so rewarding as watching those precious little babies who we all pour so much love, time and effort into, taking their very first dip in the ocean, or being restored to health to get back to where they’re supposed to be.”
– Fran Bell, SANCCOB intern and penguin mommy
“The experience I gained was second to none and I believe this was the best possible experience I have ever gained in my career as an animal scientist. SANCCOB is a world leader in coastal bird rehabilitation and whilst there you can see why. The staff is amazing and knowledgeable, offering help and advice whilst answering any question.
I managed to help with veterinarian procedures and assist in treatment that just wouldn’t be possible anywhere else.”
– Richard Smedley, Plymouth University