Samrec penguin release this weekend

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Come and wave the penguins goodbye

Come and wave the penguins goodbye at the next South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (Samrec) release this weekend, from 3pm on Sunday (December 18).

It’s your chance to see the cute black-and-white birds waddle their way to freedom in the sea after being nursed back to health by the staff and volunteers at Samrec.

Although they are ungainly on land, when they hit the water penguins come into their element and it is a beautiful sight.

Samrec manager Thomas Morris has rehabilitated many penguins this year Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
Samrec manager Thomas Morris has rehabilitated many penguins this year Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

Port Elizabeth’s South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre is a worthwhile visit.

The volunteers at this Marine Drive eco-centre rescue tired, dehydrated and injured marine birdlife that have been stranded along the coast and, with the amount of pollution in the ocean, it’s becoming an increasingly important job.

Samrec is a super place to visit over the summer holidays as it is geared towards educating children – and grown-ups! – on marine life.

If you get a chance to watch a penguin release, grab it – it’s not every day that you get to see the guys in the original penguin suits head home to the ocean and it’s a heart-warming experience. Try to time your visit to catch the afternoon feed at 2.30 but the centre is open from 9am to 4pm most days (closed Christmas and New Year holidays).

You might wonder why these cute black-and-white birds need protecting. Well, Samrec says that, in the last 50 years, the African penguin population has declined by 91%, leaving an estimated total population of 45000 individuals.

“Researchers have predicted that this species will be extinct in the wild by 2025, making our work incredibly important,” a spokesman said. “We try our best to bring these creatures back to full health so we can release them back into the wild as soon as possible.”

Samrec tries to create awareness not just of the plight of the African penguins, but of the impact humans in general are having on the entire marine environment.

The ‘hotel’ at Samrec ensures the birds are safe and comfy comfortable Picture: GILLIAN McAINSH
The ‘hotel’ at Samrec ensures the birds are safe and comfy comfortable Picture: GILLIAN McAINSH

In term time, you will often find school groups visiting and there is a “touch” room which is perfect for tactile exploration. What a pleasure for teachers not to have to continually remind the kids, “don’t touch”!

You can have a bite to eat at the Flying Penguin Cafe, where each table is a mini-viewing spot with sea treasures under the glass table-tops, visit the large rehabilitation pool or stroll across the road to the beach.

You must have a permit to go into the Cape Recife reserve but if you are visiting Samrec, your entry fee to the penguin facility also acts as a “ticket” to the reserve at the same time. Just remember to ask the person on duty at Samrec to stamp your permit.

Admission is R20 for children and pensioners and R30 for adults. Don’t forget to ask the reception desk to stamp your pass for the Cape Recife conservancy at the same time.

Contact Samrec at (041)583-1830 in office hours or 084-587-8346 after hours, or e-mail info@samrec.org.za
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Visit The Herald Facebook page (www.facebook.com/HeraldLIVE) to watch a video of a recent penguin release.

The 20-second clip captures the emotion behind Samrec’s work of rehabilitating the African penguin and has racked up almost 1000000 views.

Let’s push the penguins through the million mark for Christmas!

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