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Pelican With an Injured Wing Makes a Full Recovery at SFWC

A pelican was brought in with a mysterious injury to his wing, but thanks to the expert care of SFWC’s staff and a newly expanded pelican pool habitat, the bird was able to make a full recovery

  • A pelican enjoying our new pelican pool habitat. Toby Blades

  • Some pelicans enjoying our new pelican pool habitat. Toby Blades

  • Several pelicans enjoying our new pelican pool habitat. Toby Blades

  • A view of the new pelican pool habitat from the outside. Cynthia Barstad/SFWC

  • Several pelicans enjoying their new pool. Cynthia Barstad/SFWC

  • Several pelicans enjoying our new pelican pool habitat. Toby Blades

The South Florida Wildlife Center cares for wildlife from all around South Florida. We are incredibly fortunate to have three wildlife rescue ambulances for cases where the injured animal cannot be brought to us or the animal’s condition requires retrieval by an expert in wildlife rescue. Such was the case with an injured pelican brought in by one of our rescue teams after someone reported seeing him in distress.

The Brown Pelican arrived at the SFWC trauma hospital and rehabilitation center sick and very weak, dragging his right wing. X-rays showed no injuries to the wing, but the area around his elbow appeared swollen, bruised and painful. He was immediately given fluids, as well as medication to help with the pain.

After further examination, our veterinary staff determined that the swelling was being caused by an abscess on the wing. In order to treat the wound, the bird would have to be put under general anesthesia.

Unfortunately, while under, the pelican went into full cardiac arrest. Our staff immediately jumped into action, administering CPR to the bird and bringing him back to life. It was an amazing moment that showcased just how skilled our veterinary team is, especially when put into a life-or-death situation.

The abscess was removed and the skin over the wing was stitched closed. After about a week of recovery, our veterinarians observed a marked change in his behavior. He had quickly transformed from a weak and depressed bird to very alert and feisty—always a good sign.

After about two weeks, we were able to move the pelican to our updated pelican pool habitat. Thanks to your support, we were able to expand and improve our habitat for patients who have finished treatment but still need to be monitored before release back into the wild.

The habitat includes a large in-ground swimming pool that is four feet deep. This allows for more spacious swimming and diving opportunities for our rehabilitating pelicans, encouraging natural behaviors, promoting needed exercise and improving their feather conditions. The height of the enclosure has also been increased to 16 feet, which provides better flight-conditioning. In addition to providing more opportunities to fly, swim and dive, we have installed high perching options and enrichment items for comfort and to stimulate movement, flight, rest and socialization—all essential elements for these birds to make a full recovery.

After about 30 days in our care, the pelican was ready for release. He was brought to the beach with two other pelicans under our care, and they were released back into the wild. Always a wonderful sight that is only made possible by your continued support; please consider making a donation to the South Florida Wildlife Center to ensure we can continue to help injured wildlife across South Florida 365 days a year.

Watch a video of several of our pelicans enjoying the new pelican pool habitat and their eventual release:

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