Omar El Oud was out fishing with his father when he spotted a large white bird in the middle of the water. As they got closer, they realized it was a stranded pelican in serious need of help.
“When we first rescued Ovi, he was bleeding from a cut on his leg and we realized his flight feathers were gone, as well as him being really dirty,” El Oud told The Dodo. “We later discovered he had a fever.”
They brought the pelican back to shore, and El Oud researched how to care for the bird. With the help of the wildlife rehabilitation group Lebanese Wildlife, they were able to nurse Ovi back to health.
El Oud trained Ovi through positive reinforcement so he could better care for him and Ovi quickly caught on. “When he acted well, I’d give him a fish, and when he didn’t I’d just ignore it,” El Oud said. “In less than a day, he became a very friendly bird toward me. [He’s a] very intelligent animal.”
Unfortunately, without his flight feathers, most likely clipped by illegal wildlife traffickers, Ovi could no longer make it long distances. Luckily, he was already in the perfect place to get his strength back.
El Oud’s father, Ali, is the manager at the seaside restaurant Abou Mounir Fishery in Beirut, Lebanon. Ali knew Ovi would be safe at the marina, where the family is friendly with all the locals and fishermen. Soon, protecting and caring for Ovi became a community effort.
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