Pink the California Brown Pelican will be set free tomorrow after undergoing several weeks of intensive recovery after being found with its pouch slit from ear to ear.
The pelican was discovered on Ocean Boulevard in mid-April with a pouch laceration that prohibited it from feeding itself for what the International Bird Rescue estimated at a few weeks. The emaciated bird was taken to the IBR’s San Pedro facility where it underwent two series surgeries and hundreds of stitches to repair the slash to its pouch that it depends on to be able to eat.
After having surgical skin staples applied to allow Pink to gain enough strength to withstand the surgeries needed to permanently mend the injury, the bird underwent two operations that each lasted three hours. Pink has been recovering for the last six weeks in an outdoor aviary in San Pedro but appears healthy enough to be freed. It’s scheduled to be released at White Point Park Tuesday.
The initial reward for information leading to the person who injured the pelican was set at $2,500 by the IBR. However, after news spread of Pink’s injury, public support grew the reward to $10,000 before an anonymous donation doubled it to $20,000 early last month. The Port of Long Beach also donated $5,000 toward the surgery and rehabilitation of Pink.
Even though the bird had been removed from the endangered species list, harming a migratory bird is a crime with a possible felony charge. If caught, the person who slashed Pink’s pouch could face up to six months in jail with a fine of up to $15,000. According to the IBR, similar attacks on birds have been reported in Florida and North Carolina during the last year.
Anyone with information regarding the attack is asked to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 310-328-1516.