Rescued pelicans to live at Brookfield Zoo

Michael Adkesson, DVM, DIPL.ACZM, associate veterinarian for the Chicago Zoological Society (right) oversees an American white pelican being anesthetized by Michael O'Neill and Denise Young, senior keepers/Veterinary Services, as they prepare the bird for a physical examination at Brookfield Zoo's Animal Hospital The bird, along with four other pelicans, was rescued from the Gulf Coast oil spill. They arrived at Brookfield Zoo on July 18, and following a 30-day quarantine period, they will be placed on permanent exhibit at the zoo's Formal Pool.

July 22, 2010 4:28:59 AM PDT
Brookfield Zoo's Animal Hospital welcomed five new pelican patients for exams, x-rays and an extra-close look by a zoo vet.

These aren't just any white migratory pelicans; they were rescued from the gulf oil spill in Louisiana after suffering injuries and then being coated with oil. They were cleaned up and rehabbed in Mississippi, but are now here in their new permanent home.

"We're doing a general exam on these birds. So we're just taking a look at all of their external features so that everything's healthy," said Dr. Michael Adkesson, vet for Chicago Zoological Society.

These Brookfield white pelicans are the lucky ones after the gulf spill killed and injured so many. All five of the pelicans have wing injuries and they can't fly. They were trapped in Louisiana when the gulf oil spill happened.

"If they hadn't been rescued ... and with the oil and the fact that they couldn't fly, they were in pretty dire straits," said Tim Snyder, curator of Birds and Reptiles.

They are giant birds with wingspans of up to eight feet and even though they won't be able to fly they could have a nice long life here.

"In captivity, 30 or so years at least. A lot more than in the wild where they wouldn't get up to be quite that old," said Dr. Adkesson.

They will live out their lives at Brookfield's formal pool.