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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 14:56 GMT
Riddle of crash-landing pelican
Eastern White Pelican
Eastern White Pelicans are not native to Britain
An injured pelican, which was found in Norfolk, has provided a mystery for RSPCA officers.

The adult bird is not native to Britain and it is not known whether it has escaped from captivity or if it is from the wild.

It was found near Shipdham on Boxing Day after it flew into power cables and has been taken to an RSPCA hospital.

Officers do not know if the Eastern White Pelican, which weighs about 11 lbs, will survive its injuries but said they were mystified about how it came to be in Norfolk.

Internal injuries

It has not been reported missing by any zoo, wildlife park or private collector.

Sightings of the pelican, which is about the size of a swan, were reported by birdwatchers in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire earlier this month.

Ian Robinson, the veterinary manager at the RSPCA's Norfolk Wildlife Hospital, said: "They are good fliers and it's possible that it could have flown over from Africa or southern Europe, where they do live in the wild, but it is unlikely.

"We haven't had any reports of missing pelicans, so anything is possible."

A dog-walker spotted the pelican on Wednesday lying injured in a farm entrance, underneath power cables, and called the RSPCA.

It was taken to the wildlife hospital and treated for injuries to its legs and one wing, but officers do not yet know if it suffered an electric shock when it flew into the power cables.

If it did, then it could have potentially-fatal internal injuries.

Vets are hoping it escaped deep-tissue burns and could recover.

If they cannot discover where the bird came from, it will be re-homed.

Click here to go to Norfolk
See also:

07 Nov 01 | England
Rare egg hoard seized
15 Jul 00 | Scotland
Rare bird back in Britain
11 Mar 99 | South Asia
Migrating towards extinction
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