- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (AP) - Wildlife rescue volunteers say a pelican that had been suffering from large knife-like wounds in Pass Christian will soon be returned to its natural habitat.

The Sun Herald (https://bit.ly/1FhiC6F ) reports that the pelican will be released this weekend after having undergone two surgeries and nearly two months of rehab.

On Aug. 3, employees of Kimball’s Seafood at Pass Christian Harbor called the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center to report an injured brown pelican that had been hanging around their restaurant.

“This is probably one of the worst I’ve seen,” WCRC Director Alison Sharpe said of the bird’s wounds.

The pelican was suffering from three lacerations, one on each side of its bill near its face and a long slice stretching about 13 inches from the tip of its bill to its throat, completely splitting open the bird’s feeding pouch.

Sharpe, who is a veterinary technician and has 30 years of experience in saving injured wildlife, said accidental injuries to a pelican’s pouch are evident by a ripping pattern — usually caused when it gets caught on a nail or other sharp object. In this case, however, the three slices were clean, likely done with a knife or other bladed instrument.

With its feeding pouch sliced open, the bird was unable to swallow fish and other scraps the restaurant workers tried to feed it.

Despite the animal’s dire condition, Sharpe and veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Ladnier decided to “give him a chance,” said Ladnier, who volunteers her services to WCRC.

It took several days to prepare the bird for surgery. Sharpe cleaned it and fed it by hand to get it back to its proper weight.

The WCRC volunteers then took it to Ladnier’s River Bend Veterinary Hospital in Diamondhead, where Ladnier, assisted by Sharpe, performed the first reconstructive surgery on the bird’s pouch.

About a month later, the team performed a second surgery to repair the two smaller cuts.

The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies donated all of the fish needed to feed the pelican.

“There were a lot of people that were involved in this pelican’s recovery,” Sharpe said. “We’re very grateful for all of the help.”

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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