Local and overseas volunteers play an integral part in our operation, providing in excess of 26 000 hours of much-needed conservation work. Volunteers must be over the age of 18, hard working and passionate about saving seabirds. School-going groups under the age of 18 are accommodated through an off-site volunteering programme.

Local volunteers play an important role at SANCCOB 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
  • Photography/videography, journalism and translation
  • Marketing/fundraising

Volunteers must be 18 years or older and reside permanently in the Cape Peninsula. Half day and full day shifts available weekdays and weekends.

For more information, please contact us on 021 557 6155 or email volunteers@sanccob.co.za.

Click here to download the Application and Indemnity form.

Get hands on experience working with endangered penguins and other seabirds at the world renowned SANCCOB Seabird Centre in Cape Town, South Africa.

  • You must be 18 years and over
  • Minimum 6 weeks programme
  • No experience necessary
  • Placements all year round (Nov-Jan (chick season) is the busiest time at SANCCOB.

The programme costs R2400 for 6 weeks (minimum stay) with the opportunity to add another week at a cost of R400. Your programme fee includes a complimentary volunteer T-shirt and a seabird release trip (weather and bird permitting).

Unfortunately SANCCOB doesn’t provide accommodation – but we can recommend accommodation used by many international volunteers in the past.

As an international volunteer you will become an extension of our team of Bird rehabilitators, helping with most handling and feeding tasks .

Working hours are from 8h00-17h30, up to 5 days per week (including weekends and public holidays).

For more information, please call +27 21 557 6155 or email volunteers@sanccob.co.za

Click here to download the application form.

How volunteers help

This video shows the kind of tasks volunteers help with. Although physically tiring, the work is very rewarding.


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.

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.

To apply for one of our internships, download the application form and send it, along with your cv and motivational letter, to our volunteer coordinator at volunteers@sanccob.co.za.

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.

More details.

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.

More details



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 training@sanccob.co.za.


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.

More details.


“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

“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