SAMREC (SA Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre) is Port Elizabeth’s marine rehabilitation centre situated in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve.
At the centre you can interact with some African penguins, (also known as the jackass penguin and black-footed penguin) a ganet and cormorant or whatever type of bird that they rescue and is on the road to recovery. Once extremely numerous, the African penguin is declining in numbers due to a combination of threats and is classified as endangered. (In fact more endangered than our precious rhinos). Penguins mate for life and they recognize each other according to the amount of black spots on their chests – it works something like the human’s fingerprints – not one penguin’s marking is the same than the next one. Penguins have an average life span of 10 to 27 years, but in captivity they easily reach the age of 30.
The African penguin is only found on the south-western coast of Africa, living in colonies on 24 islands between Namibia and Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth. It is the only penguin species that breeds in Africa.
For the smaller ones there is a touch and feel area where they can have a look at all sorts of marine related animals as well as some snakes and birds while mum is having some refreshments at the Flying Penguin coffee shop. Although the teens will probably be more interested in the hospital area where they prepare the food and treat the sick birds.
The little coffee shop, with a view on the penguins, is also available for small functions with prior arrangement.
Then there is also some special cases like Wanda, an African penguin, that is blind in one eye and will never be released in the open sea again as she will never survive. She is a very playful soul and will come close to you to check you out and even pose for a photo or two.
The centre heavily rely on volunteers of all ages to assist with various daily tasks. On the day that I visited SANCOBB Port Elizabeth there were grey haired ladies assisting at reception through to school children who feed the penguins. So if you have a soft spot for marine life this might be the thing for you.
You can visit every day of the year from 09:30 to 15:30 except on Christmas day and over the New Years period. Note worthy is that the birds are lovingly fed by the volunteers at 14:30 daily where record is kept of who eats what and how many. This enables the staff to keep track of who is on the road to recovery or which bird needs some extra TLC.
As many other animal rehabilitation and rescue centres they heavily rely on donations from business and individuals and have a wish list available. Except from money for fish they also need some simple items, like washing powder to wash blankets, copy paper for the office, coffee, tea, milk for the volunteers, scrubbing brushes for cleaning, salt, a donation of a lawn mower – anything and everything will be much appreciated to help this good cause. So why not when visiting SANCOBB Port Elizabeth take something from your kitchen cupboard (tea or milk maybe) with – it can make a huge difference!
Entrance fees at the centre are R25 per scholar and R40 for adults (as at February 2018) but SANCOBB Port Elizabeth is also part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Pass initiative to promote tourism in the city. You will also find SANCOBB Port Elizabeth on Facebook.
Come on guys please help us support this good cause.