When January storms battered San Diego, polluted runoff water may have sickened some 500 brown pelicans. According to Stephanie Costelow, SeaWorld San Diego's curator of birds, the park took in and cared for 102 sick birds in January alone.
"The birds are coming in primarily a little bit underweight," Costelow said. "Some of them have experienced some form of trauma, beaten - maybe from the storms. We've seen some wing fractures and bruising on their pouches."
The birds also seemed to have some sort of oily coating on their chests - possibly from polluted storm runoff.
But after weeks of intense care, the pelicans were released by the park and soon took to the air.
The SeaWorld parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio are the global leaders in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured marine animals. The parks' Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Teams are on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The program is an important part of the parks' commitment to conservation, research and education and its main objective is to return the rescued animals - when healthy -- to the wild. Through this program, SeaWorld's animal care and aviculture specialists have rescued, treated, sheltered, rehabilitated and released thousands of ill, injured and stranded animals, including pelicans, seals, sea lions, manatees, whales, dolphins, sea turtles, seabirds and many other species.
Discover more about brown pelicans and other animals at SeaWorld.org