The sea bird, dubbed "Pink" for its similarly-colored leg band, was found near death in Long Beach, Calif., on April 16, its throat pouch apparently slashed by knife.
Found near Los Angeles Harbor, the California brown pelican was immediately transferred to the care of the International Bird Rescue. Pink underwent two surgeries by the IBR's resident veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Duerr. The pelican received a total of 600 stitches.
"Over the course of treatment, I've seen Pink transform from weak and sad to feisty and voracious," said Dr. Duerr. The vet said she's performed nearly 100 similar surgeries over the course of her career. "Despite having the largest pouch laceration I've ever seen, he did great during post-operative care and has healed in record time."
Wildlife officials have witnessed a string of pelican-directed violence recently, with pouch knifings reported in Florida, North Carolina and California.
In the end, Pink was undeterred by the senseless violence.
"Despite the vicious attack against this pelican, Pink brought out the best in wildlife lovers all over the country, who supported and rallied behind the bird's care and recovery," said IBR executive director Jay Holcomb. "Though we still don't know who committed this criminal act, we're thrilled to release a strong and healthy Pink, one of hundreds of pelicans we care for every year."
After a short rehab stint, the pelican was set free in White Point Park in San Pedro, California.