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Pelican returned to Curraghs Wildlife Park 13 December 2006

Wildlife Park managers have established that a pelican brought over from a Scottish animal centre is not the same one which flew away from the Curraghs Wildlife Park earlier this year.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had been caring for a pelican caught near Berwick in early October, obviously weak and in poor condition. During its recuperation, the Wildlife Park was contacted because of a previous sighting of a pelican near Dundee. Close examination of the pelican returned to the Curraghs Wildlife Park has revealed that it is not, in the end, the one that was missing from the Wildlife Park.

General Manager of the Wildlife Park, Nick Pinder, explained; “The pelican was brought over from the SSPCA centre where it had been recuperating on Thursday, 7th December, and was put in our off-show accommodation to complete its course of veterinary treatment in peace and quiet. On Friday, I had my first look at it and thought it looked a little pink. Identification of pelicans at a distance can be very difficult, even for experienced birdwatchers, and a quick trawl of the internet didn’t help. However, close observation of the pelicans on our lake showed up the subtle differences and we have now been able to confirm that it hasn’t got a transponder with which all our birds have been fitted. We believe that the bird is in fact a smallish great white pelican. The SSPCA, however, are happy for it to remain with us as they were unsuccessful in tracing any other claimants to ownership.”

The pelican has settled in and is eating well. It will be introduced to the other pelicans at the Wildlife Park, three Great White and three Pink-backed Pelicans, in a few days’ time when it has acclimatised. The SSPCA have agreed that it would be best for the pelican to remain at the Wildlife Park until such time as the rightful owner comes forward, if at all.

Pelicans are commonly kept in captivity within the United Kingdom and Europe and are known to fly off from time to time. A few are reported each year by birdwatchers, usually at the seaside or on large lakes with other birds such as swans, and not all of them are claimed by their owners. The SSPCA recently decided to leave a Great White Pelican seen on the east coast of Scotland, and then later at Blairgowrie, because it could not be established to whom it belonged.

Nick Pinder added: “We are still hopeful that our pelican will turn up somewhere safe and well and that it will be returned to us in the future.”

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