The reward for information leading to anyone involved in the attack in Long Beach of a brown pelican that left it unable to feed for days because of a slashed pouch has climbed to $10,000.
International Bird Rescue, which is caring for the pelican at its Los Angeles center in San Pedro, announced the new reward Monday. The California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund and private donors contributed to the larger offer, the rescue said.
The organization's website continues to garner comments of support for the male bird's recovery, as well as outrage at the injury, which left her flopping on Ocean Boulevard April 16 before a bystander alerted Long Beach Animal Control.
Authorities and animal supporters agree the injury was intentional, noting snagged fishing hooks and lines usually leave jagged tears.
"In my 40-plus years as a wildlife rehabilitator, I've seen too many of these horrible attacks against innocent animals," said Jay Holcomb, International Bird Rescue's executive director. "The public is sick of it too, and we hear their frustration. We as a society cannot and should not tolerate these crimes any longer."
Since the rescue, the pelican -- identified as "Pink" because of a band around her leg -- underwent one of many surgeries Sunday to repair the ear-to-ear gash that left her pouch dangling on her neck. The three-hour surgery, mostly applying sutures to close the pouch, was described as a success and performed by an on-site veterinarian.
Before surgery, temporary staples held the pelican's pouch together and within a few days, allowed her to self-feed on sardines. As of last week, she was recovering in an aviary alongside a second brown pelican and three Western gulls.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking the public for help in identifying anyone involved with the pelican's mutilation. If convicted, the culprit could face up to six months in federal jail and pay a fine up to $15,000.
Anyone with information can report anonymously to U.S. Fish and Wildlife at (310) 328-1516 or Long Beach Animal Control at (562) 570-7387.
[For the record, 3:33 p.m. PDT, April 28: A previous version of this post stated the pelican is female, but rescue officials are now saying it is male.]