Rescued pelicans settle into Brookfield Zoo's formal pool

Pelicans released into a pool at Brookfield Zoo on August 24, 2010. (Brookfield Zoo)
August 24, 2010 3:40:49 PM PDT
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. So what are five big birds in the hand worth? Birds of a feather flock together. That is-- if they can flock. Five American white pelicans at Brookfield Zoo can't fly so they have to be carried by zoo keepers to their new home. They could walk, but they don't know the way.

"The pelicans we received from the Gulf, the oil spill. have gone through thirty days of quarantine and they passed with flying colors," said Tim Snyder, curator of Birds And Reptiles Brookfield Zoo.

After a month of being kept in close quarters off exhibit, the five white pelicans are headed for a new life. These are the same pelicans ABC7 visited a month ago when they had their first physicals at Brookfield after being rescued from the Gulf oil spill. They all had wing injuries and couldn't fly. But that doesn't mean they can't swim. And it doesn't mean they can't enjoy the wild blue yonder of water.

"Birds do well in a non-flying situation particularly big birds like pelicans. They spend a lot of time on the surface of the water. So the fact that they really can't take flight doesn't really impact them too much at all," said Dr. Michael Adkesson, Assoc. Vet Brookfield Zoo

These are not those big brown pelicans seen in Florida. These are migratory birds and they would have flown north for the summer, but somehow last spring they were injured and they couldn't fly. And then along came the Gulf oil spill.

They survived -- swimming in the oil. Now they'll be outside year round in Chicago.

"As long as they're provided with fish year round they do fine through the winter," said Dr. Adkesson.

"A couple of them we know are youngsters, are less then two years old so we're thinking they could be here twenty, thirty years maybe," said Snyder.

So you don't have to rush out this weekend to see them-- but certainly before the year 2040.


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