Klaserie River Sands

Video: a penguin release and a festival for penguins

On 17 October 2015, SANCCOB (the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) and its conservation partners across the globe celebrated African Penguin Awareness Day, dedicated to raising worldwide awareness about the plight of the endangered African penguin.

© Michael McSweeney

© Michael McSweeney

To commemorate this special day, SANCCOB and the South African National Parks – Table Mountain National Park (SANParks) released 14 rehabilitated African penguins at Seaforth Beach (Simon’s Town, Cape Town) and hosted the annual Penguin Festival at Boulders Beach.

© Michael McSweeney

© Michael McSweeney

© Michael McSweeney

© Michael McSweeney

A large and enthusiastic crowd gathered at the picturesque Seaforth Beach to see the release of the 14 African penguins as they waddled their way back into the wild. All 14 penguins had been rehabilitated at SANCCOB’s seabird centre in Table View, Cape Town, after being admitted for various reasons including injuries, malnourishment or as abandoned chicks. Nine of the penguins were admitted from the Boulders Beach colony in Simon’s Town, four from the Stony Point colony in Betty’s Bay and one from Fish Hoek.

Watch the penguin release here:

One of the penguins released on the day had a particularly interesting background. It was first ringed as a juvenile at Walker Bay in 1995, re-sighted on Robben Island in 1996 and then again in 1997 at Boulders Beach, and then was recently admitted to SANCCOB with fishing gut wrapped around its leg. Given its first banding date in 1995, the penguin is estimated to be at least 21 years old. The re-sighting of penguins is not only important for ongoing population research on the African penguin species, but it is also very encouraging for the SANCCOB staff to know that there are still African penguins in the wild that are surviving to a fairly mature age. After the fishing gut had been removed from its leg and it had undergone the necessary rehabilitation at SANCCOB, it proudly led the group of penguins back into the ocean on African Penguin Awareness Day.


After the release, festival-goers headed through scenic Boulders Beach boardwalk to the Penguin Festival. Fun attractions on the day included an interactive LEGO build display, kiddies games, face-painting, a treasure hunt, jumping castle, live animal talks and food stalls for the young and old. The day also included a special cooking demonstration by a SASSI Braai Ambassador, Chris Kastern, sponsored by Pick ‘n Pay.

© Michael McSweeney

© Michael McSweeney

Less than 2% of the African penguin population remains in the wild today. Together, SANCCOB, SANParks and their partners in conservation are at the forefront of saving the charismatic African penguin species. All proceeds from the festival are donated to SANCCOB in support of their African penguin conservation work.

What you can do to help to conserve African penguins: 

Adopt and name an African penguin

Report injured penguins and/or oiled birds to SANCCOB by calling (021) 557 6155 during normal work hours or 078 638 3731 after hours and on weekends.

Donate to SANCCOB online or see what items are needed on SANCCOB’s Wish List 

– Visit SANCCOB’s online shop for penguin goodies.

– Raise funds for SANCCOB by simply swiping your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card.

MyPlanet card woolworths

– Volunteer at SANCCOB by emailing us here.

– Start your own fundraising campaign for SANCCOB with Just Giving.

MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet

MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet is one of South Africa's biggest fundraising programmes and allows you to make a difference, just by shopping. Every time you swipe your card at any of our partner stores they'll give back a percentage of the purchase value to your chosen school or charity. The programme allows cardholders to make a difference to worthy causes without it costing them a cent. More than 1 Million South Africans carry a MySchool card. Thanks to you more than R1 Million is donated every week to help over 8 000 schools and charities. Get your free card today. Every swipe counts!

Africa Geographic