Cape Town - The penguin pulled off a beach on Robben Island on Sunday was in shock and, because he couldn’t swim to hunt with his oiled coat, he was getting hungry and dehydrated.

Dubbed Pat by the Cape Argus, the penguin then had to endure a ferry ride to shore and then a journey by car to Sanccob’s rehabilitation centre in Table View. He was so stressed by the time he arrived that staff had to give him a few hours to calm down, before they could scrub him clean.

“These are sensitive animals. Emotionally, they are susceptible to stress. That is why we have to give them a fair amount of time off [after capture and transportation] before we can wash them and treat them for oil pollution,” says Nicky Stander, rehabilitation manager at Sanccob.

“We first need to make sure that they are strong enough, that they have calmed down before we can begin with the washing. If we start treating them too early, we can do more harm than good – they can actually die from being over-stressed.”

What happens to an African penguin when its body becomes slicked in oil? The short answer is it dies.

By late Monday Sanccob had recovered 21 penguins, mostly from Robben Island.

If you want to help Pat and his friends by donating anything you can, please phone Sanccob at 021 557 6155. - Cape Argus