The Ian Somerhalder Foundation is proud to have given a Medical Emergency Grant to help in the rehabilitation of a California Brown Pelican named Pink. Named after the pink band worn around his ankle, Pink was brought to the International Bird Rescue (IBR) facility in April 2014 after he was found starving on the street in Long Beach, CA. The worst case of cruelty IBR has ever seen, Pink's pouch had been deliberately sliced from one side of his head to the other. Pelicans are iconic birds and sentinels of ocean health. They feed on sardines and anchovies often leading to clashes with fishermen “competing” for the same fish. Pelicans use their pouch to scoop up fish for survival and without his pouch Pink would have died. At IBR, the anemic, underweight, emaciated bird was stabilized and started on a food and medicine regimen. Temporary staples were placed in his pouch which initially enabled him to eat on his own. Once stable, Pink underwent multiple surgeries to suture and repair the laceration of his pouch. Medicine was administered to prevent infection and help with Pink’s pain. As his strength grew, Pink was placed in IBR's large outdoor pelican aviary where he could strengthen his flight skills prior to release back to the wild.

Veronica, Katie and Barrett of the ISF Grant Team were invited to tour IBR’s facility and meet Pink on the day of his release. The Southern California facility is the temporary home of many different shore birds that find themselves in need. Equipped with cleaning stations, cages, pools and a full time veterinarian, IBR can handle anything from a large scale oil spill to ducklings found in a neighborhood pool. When we arrived, Pink was in the outdoor aviary visiting with a fellow patient and friend. Pelicans are highly social birds and Pink had become very close with another rehabilitating Pelican. Climbing into the aviary, we had an up close view of how wonderfully healed Pink’s pouch now is. Before release, Pink was taken to the examination room for one last check of his pouch and wings. We watched as final blood work was also drawn and a new blue band was placed around his ankle. This new identification tag will help IBR keep track of Pink should he be spotted in the future.

Upon determining that Pink was strong and healthy enough to be released back into the wild, he was placed in a cage and driven to the beach. We excitedly watched as the cage door was opened and we cheered along with members of the media, IBR staff and other beach goers as Pink came out his cage, spread his wings and flew off to a happy, healthy future.