Kidnapping African Penguins For Fun & Profit

Penguins Sanccob Cape Town

These Little Guys Need Your Help

Cape Town, South Africa

When I learned there were penguins living in South Africa, I knew what I had to do. Kidnap as many as possible to take home with me and sell to friends.

Arriving in Cape Town, one of our first stops was Boulder’s Beach. This beautiful stretch of white sand & turquoise blue water is home to a large colony of African Penguins.

They sit on their eggs in the hot sand, jump into the ocean for a little fishing, and waddle around over the rocks looking cute.

I had to have one!

But why stop at one? If I managed to kidnap a bunch of them, not only would I have a funny new pet, I could sell the rest to my friends! We’d be the coolest kids on the block. Just imagine all the phone numbers I’d get from women wanting to play with my pet penguin!

Our guide Shaheed from Escape to the Cape shared a story about a Chinese tourist who attempted to kidnap a penguin from the beach, but a driver caught him with it stuffed under his jacket.

Poor tourist. I know what it feels like to get caught smuggling animals under your clothing…

Penguin Feeding Sanccob South Africa

Fresh Fish for Lunch

Saving Penguins at SANCCOB

Not wanting to get arrested for abducting penguins from Boulder’s Beach, I was excited to learn about a penguin rehabilitation & breeding center outside of Cape Town called the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (aka SANCCOB).

Breeding Center = Baby Penguins!

Cute fuzzy babies would be much easier to stuff inside my backpack.

Arriving at SANCCOB, I was overwhelmed with all the penguins running around the complex. This was going to be easy! We met with Margaret Roestorf, marketing director for the facility, who proceeded to tell us all about these incredible birds.

It turns out that the African Penguin was recently listed as an endangered species. Oil spills, overfishing, and loss of habitat are drastically reducing their numbers.

The primary mission at SANCCOB is to rehabilitate sick, injured, and orphaned penguins along with other seabirds, releasing them back into the wild when they are ready.

Long-term volunteers come from all over the world to help care for them.

Rockhopper Penguin Sanccob South Africa

My Kidnapping Attempt!

But I Still Want One!

After hearing about the plight of the penguins, I began to have a change of heart. Maybe I shouldn’t be kidnapping these beautiful endangered animals after all…

But then I saw him. Rocky the Rockhopper.

He must be mine!

Rocky is a local celebrity & the mascot here at SANCCOB. He washed up in South Africa on his own, thousands of miles away from his home in Antarctic waters.

While he’s not an African Penguin, Rocky is a part of the team now, making his rounds at the rescue facility to ensure everything is running smoothly. Someone has to keep this army of volunteers in line!

Unfazed by his extreme popularity, I attempted to snatch Rocky when no one was looking. But being a Rockhopper, he easily hopped his way out of my grasp.

Finally admitting defeat, I joined the rest of the group to learn how SANCCOB has treated over 85,000 birds since 1968. We watched the volunteers clean, feed, and care for orphaned baby penguins as well as adults.

The seabirds at this rescue facility are in very safe & competent hands.

Penguins Sanccob Cape Town South Africa

Tuxedo Dress Code at the Penguin Party

Kidnapping Alternative?

At the end of our fun & educational tour with SANCCOB, everyone was asked if we’d like to adopt a penguin for ourselves or a friend. You can guess what my answer was… sign me up at once!

Why kidnap a penguin illegally, when I can just adopt? For a $60 donation, you become the proud father (or mother) of your very own African Penguin. When you adopt a penguin from SANCCOB, the money goes towards feeding & caring for him. You can also name your penguin whatever you want!

I decided to name mine King Bubbles the IV. Very majestic sounding, don’t you think?

Once King Bubbles the IV has been rehabilitated at the facility, he’ll be released into the wild to join his friends and live happily ever after. Obviously he’ll then become King of the Penguins, claiming his birthright.

Baby Penguin South Africa

His Majesty King Bubbles the IV

Adopt Your Very Own Penguin!

Letters are sent to new “parents” that include a photo and short history of your penguin. While you won’t actually get to meet him in person unless you visit SANCCOB, rest assured that he’ll be well taken care of there.

Best of all, if you adopt a penguin right now, your penguin can hang out with King Bubbles the IV. They can be pals. He may even appoint your penguin to his royal court…

While not quite as fun & profitable as kidnapping, adopting your own penguin won’t land you in jail. Do it today! You know you want to. Penguins are a perfect Mother’s Day gift. ★

Click Here to Adopt Your Penguin »

No penguins were harmed in the making of this article. Please do not attempt to kidnap a penguin, or King Bubbles the IV will banish you from his kingdom…
UPDATE: I’ve just learned that my advice was not heeded! Some morons actually decided to kidnap a penguin in Australia instead of adopt. King Bubbles the IV has issued the following proclamation: “Off with their heads!”

More Information

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Organization: SANCCOB
Useful Notes: Did you know that SANCCOB is primarily run by volunteers? Visit the website to learn how you can work as a volunteer — feeding & caring for penguins and other seabirds.

Are you a penguin lover?

#VisitSouthAfrica is made possible in partnership with South African Tourism. Content & opinions expressed here are my own.


Hi, I'm Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for over 5 years. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips from my travel adventures. Join thousands who receive exclusive email updates and click the green button below...

Comments & Questions


  1. Shane Baghai
    July 18, 2015

    I would like to adopt a baby African penguin

  2. Sally
    February 16, 2015

    You are so mean and you think your helping!!!! Your disgusting little brat!!

  3. Free kenyanwoman
    March 2, 2014

    im tired of all these foreign-funded animal sanctuaries whose main aim is to keep the so called caretakers in comfort in sunny africa and just like AID organisations the bulk of the money goes to the luxurious lifestyles of the foreign workers and only a peanut reaches the needy to keep the show going.

    • Matthew Karsten
      November 15, 2014

      I think you need to read up about this organization a bit more… that’s not what it is at all.

  4. Matthew Karsten
    May 6, 2012

    It’s those evil red eyes… :D

  5. Sofia @ As We Travel
    May 6, 2012

    Haha they look cute – but evil! That Rocky Rockhopper looks sneaky… ;)

  6. Angela
    April 30, 2012

    So sweet, the best way to help animals is to enable them to live in their own habitat without the danger of being smuggled :)

  7. Ava
    April 27, 2012

    Now I’m jealous. Really jealous. But also thankful. All this time, in order to cross off “see a penguin in its natural habitat” from my bucket list, I figured I’d have to go somewhere very, very cold. This is a perfect alternative!

  8. Samuel
    April 24, 2012

    I just love your blog! You have a hilarious way of telling stories. So thank you for that. It looks like you had an amazing time with these little guys. Do you think they’ll let King Bubbles IV keep his crown when he leaves? Too cute.

    • Matthew Karsten
      May 5, 2012

      King Bubbles the IV just wouldn’t be the same without his crown… :D

  9. Margaret Roestorf
    April 24, 2012

    I loved this post – funny and engaging. And with a good ending. :)

    • Matthew Karsten
      April 24, 2012

      Glad you enjoyed it Margaret! It seems I’m just in time for World Penguin Day too. A total coincidence.

  10. Keane
    April 23, 2012

    Hahahaha, I love this post :) Great write-up.

  11. matt the King
    April 23, 2012

    LOL when I heard you were writing a post about kidnapping penguins, I thought you were referring to the one kidnapped in Australia (it was returned to the wildlife park where it had been born).
    Great post. Thanks

    • Matthew Karsten
      April 23, 2012

      I didn’t even know about that until someone showed me a link earlier. King Bubbles the III isn’t happy…


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