SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - On Thursday SeaWorld released seven brown pelicans back into the wild after rehabilitating them. More than 130 injured or ill pelicans have been taken in by SeaWorld so far this year.
Healthy and now able to fend for themselves, the young brown pelicans spread their wings after being given another chance at life by SeaWorld.
"They were flown off course by what we believe monsoon season and they ended up in Arizona," Zandra Albeez said. "They were landing in very odd places that they would not find a food source, pools, lakes where they couldn't find adequate fish… it could have been a very bad situation for them."
Albeez says eight pelicans were saved by the Tucson Wildlife and Liberty Wildlife Centers in Arizona. After they were stabilized, they were transported to SeaWorld, since the park specializes in their care. Malnourished and dehydrated, the birds were nursed back to health for the last two weeks.
"Vitamins, and also a lot of these pelicans come in with lice. That's a normal thing with them, so we will give a pesticide for them," she said.
Albeez says water was essential for the birds' recovery. Without access to a good source, their feathers had become dirty and lost waterproofing, making it difficult for them to dive for food. All but one pelican made it through the recovery process.
She says despite time spent in captivity, their instincts will kick in once again.
"It's probably the best part of my job is knowing that I took care of this animal and at the end of the day they're going back where they belong," Albeez said.
Brown pelicans were removed from the U.S. endangered species list in 2009.