ISU Wildlife Care Clinic nurses pelican pair found in Iowa City to health

Group seeking donations of fresh fish as birds recover from injuries

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The Wildlife Care Clinic at Iowa State University is seeking fresh fish donations as it continues to nurse a pair of American White Pelicans to health.

Lacey Slutts, an exotic wildlife and zoo intern at ISU, said the injured pelicans were found near a lake or pond in Iowa City and brought to the clinic in Ames earlier this month.

Though the birds migrate through the area twice a year spending the summer in Canada and the winter in the southern U.S. and Mexico Slutts said it's unusual to find them in the area this time of year, adding they were likely left behind because of their injuries.

One larger, male pelican came to the hospital with an amputated left wing. Though they don't know the cause of the injury, Slutts said it may have been caused by another animal, or getting caught in a fence. The smaller, female pelican has a droopy wing and came in very depressed, Slutts said.

"Usually they would be gone in the fall, there's no exact date they leave by, but they were kind of left behind due to their injuries and the rest of the squadron moved on to the south." Slutts said.

She said both birds have improved drastically since they were admitted on Dec. 14.

The male with the amputated wing is eating very well and has healthy skin that is growing back and the depressed female has improved with the help of fluids and pain medication.

"She has definitely become much brighter and is eating really well on her own and she's way more outgoing than she previously had been, so they're both doing much better but they still have a ways to go," Slutts said.

Though their future at this time is uncertain, Slutts said the clinic hopes to release the smaller one with the droopy wing or send her to another facility where she can further her rehabilitation and have more space to stretch and fly once she's healed. The bird with the amputated wing is not releasable, but Slutts said the clinic hopes to find another facility for him once he has recovered.

"We mostly kept them together because the smaller one was so depressed and she did better with the other pelican there to have that social interaction and comfort, so that was part of the reason we wanted to keep him around because she seemed to do better because he was there," Slutts said.


How to help

The ISU Wildlife Care Clinic is accepting donations of live or freshly-caught whole fish. Slutts said the pelicans like bluegill and perch, but have also eaten minnows and are not picky. Most importantly, she said, they prefer the fish to be whole and look like fish.

The clinic also accepts monetary donations and donations of cleaning and medical supplies.

To donate, the clinic can be contacted at: 515-294-4009

The Wildlife Care Clinic is a nonprofit organization and runs on donations, fundraisers and income from educational programs. Slutts said the clinic treats many kinds of mammals, reptiles and birds.

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