FAIRFIELD (CBS13) - Rescuers are trying to nurse a pelican back to health after an unsettling case of animal abuse.
The pelican was saved as it slowly starved.
The brown pelican's wings were clipped, meaning it could not fly or hunt. And had it not been brought to the International Bird Rescue, it would have starved.
Instead of diving for fish in the wild, the bird is wrapped up in a towel, being force-fed medication.
The pelican would have survived maybe another day or two.
"By the time she got to us she was severely emaciated, probably weighing less than half of what she should be weighing as a normal healthy pelican," said Isabel Luevano with International Bird Rescue in Fairfield.
When the 4-month-old bird tries to fly, it's more of a half-flap and half-hop.
Treating aquatic birds caught in fishing line or trash is common at the rescue, but rescuers are sick to their stomachs over this extremely rare case of animal abuse.
"To see someone who went out of their way and cut the feathers to prevent the bird from flying is completely heartbreaking to see," said Luevano.
Nobody knows who did it, or why, but brown pelicans are protected birds, making this case a federal crime.
"We just evaluate the birds every few days," said Luevano.
Thankfully, after spending some time at the rescue, the pelican regained her energy and is back at her normal weight.
The pelican's clipped wings are the only thing keeping her down. Rescuers plucked some out to encourage growth.
There's still clearly a long way to go, but their strategy appears to be working as new feathers are starting to come in.
"So she does stand a chance to go back into the wild," said Luevano.
Until the bird is ready to fly, the rescue will be her home. Luevano says that should take about a month.
The refuge is funded mostly through donations and has rescued more than 400 pelicans over this summer alone.
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