FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – On a cool Wednesday late morning on Dania Beach, there’s a breeze returning to the wild.
“We’re releasing eight pelicans today, which is amazing,” said Jordan Wheatley with the South Florida Wildlife Center.
The team captures or receives sick and injured animals, and then they nurse them back to health.
It only took a few seconds after the cage door was opened to let 8 beautiful brown pelicans fly up. In the last month, all eight people are being treated for various injuries.
“A lot of times they come in for a hook or chain injury,” says Wheatley. “You will see fishing line wrapped around their feet. Sometimes they actually eat on the hook, the hook will get caught in their pocket. ”
One poor pelican had a sharp fishbone stuck in its esophagus that actually punctured its neck.
“We actually surgically removed it with our clinic staff and chief veterinarian. He was able to recover and he is one of the versions that we are doing today,” said Wheatley.
The emancipation of freedom drew a small crowd. Sharon Allen walks on the beach every day. She’s been there for the last two soapace releases and she says it’s been very uplifting.
“It’s almost like you’re up there with them,” Allen said. “I feel like I’m flying in the wind and I hope they all find each other.”
The SFWC says groups of eight can stay together because pelicans fly in flocks.
The team’s mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, release and educate. This release is about seeing that mission come into full circle.
Since 1969, SFWC has treated more than 250 different species. Each year it rescues and treats over 10,000 animals.
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