New Orleans: On November 28, a Brown Pelican was brought to Audubon Zoo after being recovered near Southwest Pass by members of a crew boat. The bird had become distressed after exposure to an oily substance in the Gulf of Mexico.
Robert McLean, Audubon Zoo’s senior veterinarian said, “The pelican looked pretty rough when it arrived. Its feathers were wet and appeared not able to protect and insulate the bird.”
The bird received a bath by McLean and staff to remove the oily substance from its head and neck. After being dried and warmed, fluids were administered. Once hand fed small fish, it was determined the pelican was capable of eating on its own.
After a second bath in a mixture of water and detergent, x-rays and blood work were performed. The bird was then transferred to a large pen. McLean added, “We wanted to allow him to exercise his wings and show us he could gain lift and be a good candidate for a successful release.”
Approximately three weeks after rescue, the bird, nicknamed “Snappy”, was determined fit for release back to its natural habitat in Southeast Louisiana.
Regarding the bird’s release, McLean said, “It was very rewarding to see him walk to the river’s edge, survey the landscape and fly back into the wild.”
Thanks to the expertise of the Audubon Zoo, this pelican has been given a second chance at life; found in distress, and returned healthy. This bird is yet another example of how human waste negatively impacts wild animals and the places they call home. Accredited zoos and aquariums like Audubon are equipped with experts, experience, and resources to rescue animals in need, making them a major solution to an ongoing pollution problem.