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Rescued Pelicans Impacted by Deadly Mass Stranding Event Get a Second Chance After Rehabilitation

Staff from the Aquarium of the Pacific assist with the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center’s emergency effort to rehabilitate the sick birds and some pelicans are returning home

Aquarium staff kneels behind a kennel with a pelican emerging with wings wide

Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific

June 20, 2024

June 20, 2024, Long Beach, CA—Hundreds of pelicans were impacted by a deadly mass stranding event off the coast of California recently, but some are getting a second chance after much needed help. The Aquarium of the Pacific’s animal care staff have been working to help birds rescued in SoCal through an emergency effort at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center (WWCC) in Huntington Beach, CA under a coordinated state-wide response through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

This effort includes state, federal and non-governmental organization partners such as WWCC and the Aquarium of the Pacific. The Aquarium began helping with the emergency response in May of 2024. During this time, CDFW had received increased reports of California brown pelicans, a protected species, standing off the coast of central and southern California exhibiting emaciation and some with secondary injuries. The Aquarium staff members have been helping to provide animal care to the birds at WWCC affected by this mass stranding event.

“The birds needed feedings, fluids, and medication multiple times a day, and this was on top of the staff needing to care for all the other animals at the center. It was dirty and tiring work, but it was great watching the birds recover over the last few weeks to the point that they were able to be released back into the wild,” said Ashley Loper, Aquarium of the Pacific aviculturist II. Loper recently joined the care center in releasing ten pelicans in Corona del Mar State Beach. “We are proud to have partnered with WWCC and CDFW to help these birds recover and return home,” said Loper.

Since the event, more than 100 pelicans have been cared for at WWCC. The center’s mission is to educate the public about human impact on the environment and mitigate that impact through care and rehabilitation of native wildlife. 

If you find an injured or sick pelican, CDFW recommends calling your local wildlife rehabilitation facility. For more information, you can visit

The Aquarium has also responded to past avian emergencies such as the Tulare Lake bird rescue in 2023, the elegant tern rescue in the Long Beach harbor in 2021, and the emergency response to help oiled birds in Orange County in 2021.