Internship with seabirds in South Africa
Internship with seabirds in South Africa

Useful information

Join the team of professionals at our partner foundation, and validate your internship in animal care within a non-profit organisation. The primary objective of all the actions carried out is the conservation and rescue of the region’s seabirds, threatened by human activity. Put your knowledge to good use and benefit from practical learning from the team on site, who will share their various skills and experience with you. You will also have the opportunity to discover a new culture, the South African way of life and the city of Cape Town.

Master in marine sciences
Master in marine biology
Engineering school
Veterinary school
Bachelor's degree in sustainable development
DUT Génie biologique


Table Bay


English Intermediate


Description of the program

The foundation is located on the edge of Table Bay Nature Reserve, about 20 km from Cape Town. With a limited staff, it relies heavily on the support of interns to achieve the organisation's objectives. Participants become an extension of the staff and an integral part of the daily operation of the centres. Not only do they participate in hands-on work with the seabirds, but they also assist in all functions of the centre, such as marketing, procurement and fundraising, through their animal care internship.

animal care course

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Like all of our animal internship programs abroad, this project in South Africa allows you to gain university credits while contributing to the protection of animals in the region.

Orientation Days:

Your animal care internship begins with two days of orientation

  • You are picked up at the airport and taken to the hotel. You will then be shown the surroundings and given a map of the area. You can arrange this day as you wish, to explore the beach, stores, bars and restaurants. In the evening, you will be served a welcome dinner at the hotel.
  • The day begins with breakfast at Saltycrax Backpackers. The team members will teach you how the bus system works before you go to Cape Town.

City tour of Cape Town on foot:

  • Take a walking tour of historic sites like Good Hope Castle and the Grand Parade. Learn about life during apartheid in South Africa at the Parliament Buildings and the District Six Museum. Shop for African arts and crafts at Greenmarket Square and St George's Mall.
  • After the listed activity, you can take a bus or walk to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Sit and sip a delicious coffee, enjoy fresh fish and watch the boats in the busy harbour, or stroll through the stores and markets listening to the musicians on the sidewalks.
  • You can also take the cable car up Table Mountain for a great view of the city (personal expense).
  • In the evening, take the local bus back to Table View where you can join staff, guests and locals at one of Table View's waterfront restaurants or bars, all within walking distance of the hostel where you'll spend the night.


Intern assignments:

During the animal care internship, participants must:

  • Maintain a high level of hygiene and cleanliness in the rehabilitation center.
  • Clean bird pens, mats, crates and pools.
  • Clean equipment used to prepare food and feed the animals.
  • Wash and dry clothes.
  • Assist in the maintenance of the permanent bird exhibit (cleaning rocks, raking sand and preparing food).
  • Defrost and prepare fish for different species of seabirds.
  • Capture and handle different species of seabirds.
  • Feed different species of seabirds.
  • Hydrate different species of seabirds.
  • Administer medicine to different species of seabirds.
  • Assist in preparing birds to be released.
  • Maintenance of the center


Sample Schedule:

The Animal Care Internship Coordinator establishes a monthly schedule in which volunteers are scheduled to work a maximum of 5 days per week (including weekends and holidays). A normal work day is from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm with a lunch break from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm and a short tea break in the morning at 11:00 am and in the afternoon at 3:30 pm (schedules may vary depending on capacity needs and the number of birds at the centre).

On some days, volunteers will be required to help until 6:30 pm. Your willingness to go the extra mile during peak periods will therefore be crucial.


There are different tasks that an intern can be assigned to each day:

Food preparation in the kitchen: defrosting fish, preparing fluids/formulas and cleaning preparation equipment.

Laundry: washing and drying clothes.

Cleaning station: cleaning of large equipment, such as the carpet in the enclosure or the bird cages, with a high pressure hose.

Aviary: intended for flying birds, requires daily cleaning of the enclosure and includes feeding of the birds (free feeding). Some birds may require hydration (through a tube), medication or force-feeding.

Intensive Care Unit: Staff and interns are primarily responsible for the care of the birds in the ICU, but volunteers may be asked to assist with cleaning the ICU.

Rehabilitation enclosures: main enclosures for birds undergoing rehabilitation, mainly African penguins. The areas require daily cleaning and feeding of the birds. Some birds may require hydration (through a tube) and medication.

Original enclosure: exhibition for the center's permanent and temporary long-term birds. Assist with exhibit maintenance, including cleaning rocks, raking sand, and preparing food.

Odd jobs: various tasks are necessary in the center, essential to the daily functioning of the rehabilitation center. This may include general maintenance or cleaning tasks.


Please note that the animal care course is not for the faint of heart. The birds in our care are wild and bite at the slightest opportunity. Learning to work with birds is a bit like riding a bike... The more you train, the better you get. Volunteers should know that commitment is essential to learn how to handle and feed the birds.

Host organization

Our South African partner foundation for coastal bird conservation is a non-profit organisation dating back to 1968.
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Its objective is to reverse the decline of seabirds by rescuing, rehabilitating and caring for them (against diseases, injuries and oil).

In almost 55 years, it has treated more than 95,000 seabirds and independent research confirms that oil spill response actions alone have increased the African seabird population by 19%. In a year without an oil spill, our partner processes up to 2,500 seabirds, of which about 1,500 are African penguins.


Strong points

Identification of animal care methods
Contribution to the conservation of marine birds
Professional and multicultural team
Discovery of a new culture