Volunteer – Penguin Conservation Centre



With opportunities to take part in regular boat release programmes at Robben Island and exposure to a variety of local seabirds, the Penguin Conservation Centre is an immensely enjoyable and rewarding environment for nature lovers.

As well as learning about the life-cycle and conservation of the African penguin, which is still an endangered species, volunteers are also very “hands-on,” being taught how to catch, hold, feed and tube feed these wonderful birds – each with their own individual characters. You will care for the weak, the strong, the cheeky and the just plain daft, and when the sun is high you will probably find yourself longing to join them in the pool too! Volunteers are also involved in a variety of  daily tasks, including the preparation of fish, cleaning the pens, pools and mats, sterilizing syringes and more. Be warned, as cute as they are, penguins will bite given the opportunity. The training you will receive, together with the protective clothing provided by PCC, will allow you to handle these birds safely.

The Penguin Conservation Centre prides itself on its very positive working environment and strives for everyone, permanent and voluntary, to feel like a part of the family. PCC offers 7 volunteer training modules, which cover all aspects of the Centre’s activities including handling, washing and hand-raising seabirds. Volunteers will work up to five days a week (8am – 5pm) with some weekends. PCC’s volunteer co-ordinator will arrange your schedule in advance.


6 weeks and up. .


You do not need any special skills to join this project, as all the necessary training will be given. If you have specialist veterinary skills or are studying for this line of work, there may be opportunities for you to spend time assisting the PCC vets

There are no set arrival/departure dates for this project. Volunteers just need to inform Enkosini Eco Experience of the date they are planning to arrive. The Penguin Conservation Centre requires that volunteers commit to a minimum stay of 6 weeks. Volunteers are required to sign an indemnity form acknowledging and accepting the consequences of working in close contact with wild animals.  Applicants must be over 16 years old.




Upon arrival at the Cape Town International Airport, volunteers must catch a taxi to Table View to relax and unwind before commencing work at the Penguin Conservation Centre.  If you provide us with your flight details, we can also organize a shuttle to pick you up at the airport.

At Table View, you will have access to regular bus services for exploring the local area. The Penguin Conservation Centre is also within walking distance of the Bayside Shopping Centre in Table View with a wide variety of shops, restaurants, internet cafes and a cinema.


Click HERE to find out up to date costs and requirements for volunteering with PENGUIN CONSERVATION CENTRE.


Volunteers have a choice of accommodation in Table View – you can either stay at the Elements Guesthouse or in the family home of Cheryl Campbell who runs the Penguin Chick Satellite Station.

OPTION 1: Elements guesthouse

The total cost for Option 1 is GB£795 / USD$1395 for 6 weeks, including dorm accommodation, donation to the project, cleaning 3x per week, change of linen 1x per week, and 1 bag of laundry 1x per week.

You will be accommodated at a guesthouse within a short walk to Blouberg Beach. The accommodation is very well equipped with a large TV lounge, satellite TV, entertainment and braai area (bbq!), large pool and full kitchen facilities. You will also be close to the Bayside shopping mall, which is located mid-way between the guesthouse and the Centre.  The mall has internet cafes, 6-screen cinema, post office, foreign exchange, banks, cafes, supermarkets, department stores, etc.

No meals are provided so you will need to budget for this – you can either buy groceries and cook in the guesthouse kitchen or eat out/take away from one of the nearby restaurants or bars.  This accommodation will suit more independent volunteers who prefer to be closer to the beach.  The Centre is only a 20-minute walk from the guesthouse.

If you are traveling as a couple, or would prefer a double room rather than dormitory style accommodation, please let us know and we will be very happy to advise you on availability and additional cost.

Please note that we use the Endless Summer Backpackers or other nearby guesthouses to accommodate our volunteers when the Elements Guesthouse is fully-booked.

OPTION 2: Family home stay

The total cost for Option 2 is GB£1095 / USD$1895 for 6 weeks, including donation to the project, meals, accommodation, laundry and daily transport to the Centre.

You will be accommodated in a family home in Table View close to PCC. The home also serves as an emergency animal rescue centre and Penguin Chick Satellite Station for PCC. As well as daily transfers to and from PCC, all of your meals and a laundry service are included. Along with the many penguin chicks and approximately 100 rescued cats, you may also meet occasional visitors in the form of baby baboons, owls and buck and other injured animals that are brought to the home.  Once you have learnt how to feed the adult penguins at PCC you will also be able to assist with the chicks at the home.

There are two rooms, each sleeping up to 3 volunteers in comfortable beds.  You will have use of the facilities at the home including the TV, video player, kitchen and bathroom and there will be lifts available to places of interest including Century City, Blouberg Beach and Internet cafes.  All diets can be catered for, so please let us know in advance if you will require vegetarian or other options for your meals.

If you are allergic to cats then you must ensure that you have the required medication for the duration of the project, or select the Guesthouse option as described above.




The Centre is located on the banks of Flamingo Vlei in Cape Town with wonderful views of Table Mountain. Recently ranked 5th on a list of ‘must see’ places in the world, Cape Town is definitely South Africa’s most beautiful and popular city. In your spare time from PCC, you can enjoy an amazing variety of Cape Town activities, including:

• Visiting nearby popular beaches such as Blouberg and Big Bay

• Hiking or taking the cable car up Table Mountain

• Touring the Cape Winelands, Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope

• Boating to Robben Island, and taking a tour of the island, prison and cell that was home to Nelson Mandela for nearly two decades

• Taking a tour to a local township

• Watching rugby/cricket at Sahara Park Newlands Stadium

•Testing your adrenalin with sky diving, paragliding and abseiling from Table Mountain


The Penguin Conservation Centre (PCC) was founded in November 1968 to care for ill, injured and oiled seabirds. In its long history, PCC has handled an overwhelming influx of birds into the Centre and responded to every major oil spill along the South African coast.  To date, PCC has treated over 83,000 seabirds.

The Penguin Conservation Centre is best known for its success in rehabilitating oiled African Penguins. Due to the exploitation of guano and penguin eggs and the depletion of fish resources, their numbers have dropped by a frightening 90% in the past century. In recent years, oil spills have threatened to decimate the relatively few survivors that remain. Since African penguins are flightless and live in close-knit colonies, a single oil spill can be devastating.

The Penguin Conservation Centre has pioneered and refined many oiled seabird rehabilitation procedures and is now a world leader in this field, achieving survival rates that are exceptional by international standards. Recent research by scientists at the University of Cape Town’s Avian Demography Unit (ADU) indicates that the African Penguin population is 19% higher today than what it would have been in the absence of PCC’s efforts.

Despite their highly dedicated, professional team of 10 permanent staff, the Centre is barely able to handle the large numbers of birds which arrive every day. PCC treated 817 penguins in 2001, 977 penguins in 2002, 1,052 penguins in 2003, 655 penguins in 2004, 951 penguins in 2005, 1,301 penguins in 2006 and 896 penguins in 2007.  Their conservation efforts continue 365 days each year due to the fact that increasing numbers of our vulnerable seabird species require rehabilitation year round.

For more information on ENKOSINI ECO EXPERIENCE, please visit www.enkosini.org

For important information on travelling overseas, please read ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU GO WILD!‘