HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - A group of pelicans are now “free birds” after getting a clean bill of health from being grounded by a number of injuries.

Eight pelicans took flight Wednesday after some some much-needed rest and rehabilitation at the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale.

“The entanglements around their legs, sometimes they will even ingest the hooks,” said Jordan Wheatley, South Florida Wildlife Center’s Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator. “The hooks will get stuck on their pouches.”

That was just a few of the issues the pelicans faced when they arrived at the center. Others were weak from migration or dealing with fish bone injuries.

“A lot of times, whenever the public accidentally feeds pelicans the wrong thing, the fish bone basically can get stuck in the esophagus,” said Wheatley.

That was the case for one of these eight pelicans brought to the center in early January. Someone brought him in after noticing a bone had pierced the bird’s esophagus.

“We actually had a member of the public bring in the pelican that saw the fish bone protruding,” said Wheatley. “They did actually help remove some of the fish bone before bringing it in to us. We did not advise them to do that at first. However, they did feel as though it was necessary, so whenever that pelican came in to our center, we saw it right away, and we scheduled it for surgery to properly remove that fishbone that was sticking out.”

They’ve been busy with other pelicans, fulfilling their mission to protect wildlife through rescue, rehabilitation and education.

Saving injured animals takes time, and they’re not always ready to be released back into the wild.

“They might really miss us, and what that means is that they are probably not totally comfortable with their natural environment right now, because they’ve been with us for about a month or two. That means that they have been so comfortable staying at our center getting flight rehabilitated, that they may not want to leave,” said Wheatley.

That’s the goal and reason to rejoice for these staffers.

“It was so joyful to see something positive. It’s almost like you’re up there with them,” said Sharon Allen, who saw the peilcans get released.

The vets said the group may stay together since birds typically travel in flocks.

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