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Happy ending for pelican who received life-saving treatment after suffering head trauma in collision with ship off South Coast

The injured pelican was successfully rereleased back into the wild after treatment
The injured pelican was successfully rereleased back into the wild after treatment

A rare rescue and rehabilitation of an injured pelican, off the South Coast, has a happy ending.

The injured pelican was rescued after it hit the side of a vessel about ten miles off the coast of Oxnard.

Suffering from head trauma and unable to fly, this pelican was transported to Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network to receive life-saving treatment.

The pelican spent the first few days under intensive care where staff closely monitored its condition and provided IV and oral fluids, medication, and food.

After stabilizing, it was then strong enough to join the larger population of patients in SBWCN’s seabird pool, where it could have more room to fly and swim.

After spending 46 days rehabilitating, Allison Jacqua at the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network – who was overseeing the pelican’s recovery - told KCLU the bird was now successfully released back into the wild.

"It's very rare and it was also very rare to be able to know what actually happened to it, so we could initiate the care it needed right away," Jacqua told KCLU.

"We have every confidence with the release that we saw," said Jacqua. "It gained altitude really well, and just flew. That's a success story right there."

Usually, the rescue staff don’t name the wild animals they help, but, said Jacqua, they were so fond of this pelican that they named him Noah!

Brown pelicans are large seabirds that range anywhere from 8–10 pounds with a wingspan between 6.5–7.5 feet.

They are common residents of the southern coasts of the United States, with ranges extending down to South America.

They are known for plunge-diving into the ocean to catch their food – one of only two pelican species to do so.

These social birds can be found congregating in large flocks almost year round.

Populations reached dangerously low numbers in the 1960s due to pollution from the pesticide DDT, and the species was listed as endangered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1972.

Thanks to DDT regulations and conservation recovery efforts, the brown pelican has since been removed from the endangered species list.

The SBWCN Helpline is available everyday from 9 AM–5 PM for animal emergencies and wildlife advice: (805) 681-1080.

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Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.