Audubon Zoo releases rescued brown pelican on Mississippi River - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Audubon Zoo releases rescued brown pelican on Mississippi River

The pelican, nicknamed "Snappy,'' was set free on the Riverview, commonly known as the "Fly,'' along the banks of the Mississippi River behind Audubon Zoo. Source: Audubon Nature Institute The pelican, nicknamed "Snappy,'' was set free on the Riverview, commonly known as the "Fly,'' along the banks of the Mississippi River behind Audubon Zoo. Source: Audubon Nature Institute
Source: Audubon Nature Institute Source: Audubon Nature Institute
Source: Audubon Nature Institute Source: Audubon Nature Institute
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

Audubon Zoo veterinary staff recently released a brown pelican into the wild after treating the bird for exposure to an oily substance it encountered in the Gulf of Mexico.

The pelican, nicknamed "Snappy,'' was set free on the Riverview, commonly known as the "Fly,'' along the banks of the Mississippi River behind Audubon Zoo.

Jeff Dorson, executive director of the Humane Society of Louisiana, brought the pelican to Audubon Zoo on Nov. 28, one day after the distressed bird had been recovered by members of a crew boat near Southwest Pass.

"The pelican looked pretty rough when it arrived,'' said Robert MacLean, senior veterinarian at Audubon Zoo. "Its feathers were wet and appeared not able to protect and insulate the bird.''

MacLean said he and his staff bathed the pelican with detergent and water in an effort to remove the oil-like substance that covered its head and neck.

The pelican was dried and warmed, received fluids and was later hand fed small amounts of fish before Audubon staff determined it could eat on its own. Following a second bathing, x-rays and blood work, the pelican was transferred to a large pen.

"We wanted to allow him to exercise his wings and show us he could gain lift and be a good candidate for a successful release,'' MacLean said. 

About three weeks after the treatment started, Audubon staff decided the time was right for the pelican to return to its natural habitat in southeast Louisiana.

"It was very rewarding to see him walk to the river's edge, survey the landscape and fly back into the wild,'' MacLean said.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.

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