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Nursed Back To Health, Rehabbed Pelicans Released On Dania Beach

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - On a breezy late Wednesday morning on Dania Beach, there was a wind-aided return to the wild.

"Today we're releasing eight pelicans, which is awesome", said Jordan Wheatley with the South Florida Wildlife Center.

The group captures or takes in sick and injured animals, they then nurse them back to health.

It took just a few seconds after the cage doors were opened for the eight beautiful brown pelicans to take flight. For the last month, all eight were being treated for various injuries.

"A lot of time they come in because of hook or line injuries", said Wheatley. "You'll see fishing line entanglement around their legs. Sometimes they will actually ingest the hooks, the hooks will get stuck on their pouches."

One poor pelican had a sharp fishbone stuck in his esophagus, the bone actually punctured its neck.

"We actually surgically removed that with our team of clinic staff and head veterinarian. He was able to get sutured up and he's one of the releases we're doing today," Wheatley said.

The release to freedom drew a small crowd. Sharon Allen walks the beach every day. She was there for the last two pelican releases and she said it was uplifting.

"It's almost like you're up there with them", Allen said. "I feel like I'm lofting up into the wind and I hope they will all find each other."

The SFWC said the group of eight may stay together since pelicans fly in flocks.

The group's mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, release, and educate. This release was about seeing that mission come full circle.

Since 1969, the SFWC has treated more than 250 different species. Each year it rescues and treats more than 10,000 animals.

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