Carol is the founder of the Seabird and Penguin Rehabilitation Centre in Mossel Bay. She has an indescribable love for penguins and focuses her energy on conservation. She moved to the Garden Route in the early 2000s, bringing her passion for nature with her. We spoke to Carol when she and her team of volunteers released four treated penguins back into the Indian ocean.
“I’ve been working with African penguins and seabirds since the 1990s. When I got here, somehow word got out that this bird lady was here. So everybody started bringing them to me. I started in my garage, but in the end, it just wasn’t suitable so we started SAPREC. We’ve helped thousands of birds since. Penguins, over 600 of them. And being such an endangered species, that’s actually quite a big percentage of the population.
“I studied conservation. I wanted to become a game ranger, they said they could put me in a shop, I said I’m not studying for four years to work in a shop. Then I went to Joburg Zoo. Later, I became a volunteer at SANCOBB (South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) in the 90s. Then they wanted me to run it. The woman who started SANCOBB, Althea Westbol, started in her garage in the 60s and she was my mentor. She taught me everything. I left them when I left Cape Town. My husband moved me here.
“I have two minds about the release. I feel fantastic and yet I feel a bit sad, because it’s a big ocean. They’ve got so many problems, with overfishing, with plastic. So it feels good that we let them go in the best possible condition that we could. But it’s a big ocean.