Center releases pelicans back into wild - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Center releases pelicans back into wild

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Pelicans released back to the wild. Pelicans released back to the wild.

DANIA BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- Four pelicans were released back to the wild after they were nursed back to heath.

One at a time, four brown pelicans took their first steps back into the wild at John U. Lloyd State Park in Dania Beach, Monday. "Well, for us it's our full time job. It's our reason for being, so it's the most important thing we can do for wildlife out there," said South Florida Wildlife Center Dr. Renata Schneider.

Each one of the birds is a success story for the South Florida Wildlife Center, where veterinarians and animal rescuers nursed them back to health.

One of the pelicans in particular is no stranger to the spotlight. You would never know that just a few months ago he was in really bad shape. "The injuries were basically a large tear. With physical therapy over time [we got] the extension back to where he could fly again," said Schneider.

It took months of painstaking work, but the people in the operating room readily admit this pelican really owes his life to a group of good-hearted college students. "We just kind of saw this pelican hanging from the tree and it was the saddest thing I've seen in a while," said Greg Schreiber.

Schreiber and some friends were hanging out along the Intracoastal in Fort Lauderdale back in January when they came across the disturbing sight.

The line snapped and sent the bird about 75 feet into the water. They immediately jumped in to save him. Cell phone cameras captured as a wildlife officer performed field surgery in the dark before taking in the pelican for more intensive treatment.

Animal experts said such incidents can be avoided. "Most of these injuries are caused by human activities, so any animals we can fix and restore, we're doing a service because of the disservice that we do to wildlife in South Florida," said Schneider.

A blue band was used to temporarily identify the bird with the harrowing back story. The animal rescuers said it will soon disintegrate and won't cause him any harm.

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