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April 27, 2005

Weak pelican lands near LAX runway

After being safely rescued, "Runway" is in care at IBRRC in San Pedro

San Pedro, CA

A juvenile California brown pelican almost closed down a runway at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) yesterday. The youngster landed in a maintenance area causing the airport’s operations personnel great concern. If the bird decided to take off, he would have to fly across the runways, a dangerous proposition. Bob Fuhrmann of LAX airport operations, called International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in San Pedro, specialists in the care of seabirds, for help.

IBRRC staff immediately called wildlife rescue expert Peter Wallerstein and within 15 minutes he had been granted special access and was following airport police with flashing lights to the pelican, who had fortunately stayed put. “The airport employees were great, and very concerned about the pelican and wanting to do the right thing,” said Wallerstein. “I faced the bird blocking him from taking off, but he was quite weak, indicating to me he needed medical attention.” Wallerstein rushed the pelican, which is an endangered species, to IBRRC, where 36 other brown pelicans are currently in care.

“Runway,” as he is now being called by staff at the center, was found to be in need of hydration and food. He will be available for adoption through IBRRC’s Adopt a Pelican Program, which helps pay for the cost of caring for the birds. Pelicans typically eat $200 worth of fish during their stay and many require expensive antibiotic treatment. “Runway may have been in the early stages of domoic acid poisoning, or a pelican recently off the nest who was having trouble finding food,” said Erin Kellogg, rehabilitation manager.

IBRRC has cared for 70 brown pelicans already this year, at an approximate cost of $30,000. The center is appealing to the public for help. To learn more about IBRRC’s pelican adoption program, including the Pelican Partners program, which allows adopters to go on the release of their pelican, visit their website at http://www.ibrrc.org/ or call 707-207-0380, extension 109.

Contact numbers: Peter Wallerstein, Whale Rescue Team, 310-560-6284 (cell) 800-39WHALE – 24 hour hotline. Website

Media contact:

Public Affairs Director

(831) 622-7588

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