Watch: Wounded pelican returns to wild after care from SeaWorld crews

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SAN DIEGO – An American White Pelican found injured on a North County highway was released into the wild this week after being nursed back to health at SeaWorld San Diego.

The juvenile pelican was rescued by a private party Sept. 21 on Highway 79 in Oceanside. It was taken to the San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife campus in Oceanside and then picked up by SeaWorld’s Rescue Team, according to SeaWorld Rescue Animal Care Supervisor Kimberly Peterson.

The bird arrived thin and dehydrated with a “horrible wound” on a toe on its left foot and two smaller wounds on its left wing, Peterson said.

Crews from the SeaWorld Rescue Team were able to stabilize the pelican by giving it fluids and tube feeding it with a special formula until it started eating again. Veterinarians surgically repaired the bird’s injuries, which included tissue damage to its foot and infected wounds.

A lengthy recovery was complete Tuesday when crews from SeaWorld took the pelican to Santee Lakes to return it to the wild.

Video shows the bird taking several slow steps out of its transport cage on land before plopping into the water. At first, it is seen swimming on its own and then it veers toward a group of other pelicans positioned across the lake.

“SeaWorld’s veterinary team and rescue team worked very hard to ensure the best possible outcome for this pelican,” Peterson said. “We work so well together to plan a course of treatment and provide the best care available to each and every animal that we care for.

“The feeling of success and gratitude for our team is especially rewarding in difficult cases like this one.”

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