Nobody likes hospital food, not even pelicans.
Pely a large female pelican, found herself living at Wild ARC in Metchosin after deciding not to migrate south this year.
Pely had stopped eating at an animal rescue facility in Manitoba, and not having access to a pool had caused her feathers to become so oily she turned brown.
“She was really underweight,” said Wild Arc manager Kari Marks, who recieved the bird in January. Due to conditions and stress Pely, had lost her waterproof coating and was unable to swim. “The water would get close to her skin.”
Volunteers tried to feed Pely with a syringe filled with either salmon, herring and other donated fish, but she wouldn’t eat it. After offering many kinds of fish, they offered her smelt.
“We did what you would do with someone who is sick and give them something small,” Marks said.
Pely loved the smelt and guzzled it down. At that point Wild ARC knew it needed to find enough to keep the pelican eating. Donations from individuals came pouring into Wild ARC after a public plea. The largest donation was 800 pounds of smelt from the Bluewater Bait Co.
“She is doing much better,” Marks said, but Pely still needs to be syringe fed to supplement her diet.
Wild ARC is currently building its aquatic centre, and was able to accommodate Pely. The other four birds died in care in Manitoba.
Pely has gained her waterproof coating back and can swim in the pools at the aquatic centre. As social birds, mirrors in the enclosure to give her the illusion of company. There is also a heater to make her more conformable.
“Ideally she should be in the Gulf of Mexico right now where it is warm,” Marks said.
Pely will soon spend time in Wild ARC’s flight cage to help her get exercise and to rebuild strength. She will be sent back to Manitoba in the spring to be released back into the wild.