Pink the Pelican Released after Savage Animal Cruelty Attack

Posted by Shelley Rizzotti, Vice Chair, ALDF-LA on June 4, 2014

As an attorney dedicated to winning justice for animals, yesterday was a truly special day for me. I had the pleasure of watching the release of the California Brown Pelican named “Pink,” who was returned to the wild after a month and a half recovery from a savage attack. In the April 2014 attack, a perpetrator—who is still at large—butchered Pink’s entire throat pouch and left him to die. The International Bird Rescue—a San Pedro, Calif. based nonprofit—has been caring for Pink and rehabilitating him since the attack, and we are thrilled at his recovery and release.

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Pink flies free after being released on June 3, 2014 at at White Point Park in San Pedro, California. (Copyright International Bird Rescue/Bill Steinkamp)

In a surgical room packed with reporters at International Bird Rescue yesterday, Pink received his final pre-release medical clearance. His pink hospital band (hence his nickname, “Pink”) was removed and replaced with a blue identifier: “V70.” He was then placed in a crate and transported a few miles to Royal Palms Beach Park, where even more press awaited to see him released.  As a Los Angeles Council Member was addressing the press, a little girl, walking through the park with her parents, approached the crate, oblivious to the cameras, microphones, film equipment and the 50 or more people surrounding the crate. She interrupted the Councilmember and told him she wanted to give the bird some bread. Her little voice silenced the crowd of hundreds, and her concern for the bird in the crate spoke to us all.

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Pink’s last checkup before his release.

Pink’s story isn’t just about a miraculous recovery and release. The heart of his story is really the torture of a defenseless animal. The photos of Pink’s weak and helpless state, with his throat slashed, incited people to action and drew huge media attention. As a result, International Bird Rescue says that reporting of bird injuries along the coast have drastically increased because of Pink’s story—meaning that countless other birds are also now getting a second chance at flying free.

This story reminds us that animal abuse everywhere needs to be reported and prosecuted. That is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund and International Bird Rescue, along with several concerned anonymous citizens, are offering a total $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person (s) responsible for this attack—which could mean felony penalties and prison time. In addition, the Port of Long Beach has put up $5,000 toward Pink’s surgical and rehabilitative care. California Brown Pelicans like Pink are threatened species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and under California’s Penal Code, which prohibits maliciously and intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, or wounding a living animal. Although we are delighted by Pink’s recovery and release into the wild, his story demonstrates just how much animals need protection under the law.

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Pink flies free, as all pelicans should.

Anyone with information that might lead to the arrest and conviction of the person (s) responsible for the mutilation of this bird should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 310-328-1516.


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