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Oakland Zoo Rescues Pelican With Fishing Lure Stuck In Its Throat

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Oakland Zoo staff captured and treated a pelican Wednesday that witnesses said had a fishing lure stuck in its throat for over two weeks.

Zoo officials said that staff responded to reports of a pelican seen around Lake Merritt suffering from a large fish hook lodged into its throat, and a fishing line encircling its neck and bill.

Staff used two kayaks and a small motorboat to capture the pelican before taking it to Oakland Zoo's Veterinary Hospital for treatment. It was clear from tests that the bird was both starving and dehydrated, as the hook made it impossible for the bird to eat and drink.

Dr. Alex Herman, Oakland Zoo's vice president of Veterinary Services, removed the one-inch barbed fishing hook from the pelican's neck. The animal made it through the procedure with no issues and since the procedure, staff has fed it fish like smelt and capelin.

Pelican in Oakland Zoo Veterinary Hospital
Merritt' the American White pelican receives treatment at Oakland Zoo Veterinary Hospital (Oakland Zoo)

Staff nicknamed the pelican "Merritt." Zoo officials expect Merritt to remain at Oakland Zoo's Veterinary Hospital until it's completely recovered.

In a statement the zoo released about the rescue, zoo officials noted that "many coastal birds and other marine life are injured or killed each year by cut and discarded fishing lines, associated hooks, and tackle."

"Untold numbers of birds, turtles and other wildlife are affected by this solvable issue. Proper disposal of fishing line is crucial, and every citizen can help by picking up any fishing items found in nature," Amy Gotliffe, Vice President of Conservation at Oakland Zoo, noted in the release.

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