"Lots of people talk to animals, not to many listen - that's the problem"  Winnie the Pooh

Case Stories (page 6)                                   

Wilbur the Laysan Albatross     

On 15 April 1998, we received a call from the Los Angeles International Airport's Superintendent of Operations. His crew had located what he described as a bird that looks like a Seagull but is "as big as a Swan". He stated the bird was non-responsive and sitting between Runway 25R and 25L on Twy "J". It appeared to have an injured leg and wanted to know if we could come and get the bird.

Dr. Bill Ridgeway and I went to the appointed location and found their "huge seagull" to actually be a Laysan Albatross. These types of Albatross are commonly called "Gooney Birds". They nest on mid-Pacific islands, mainly in the Hawaiian chain and are very rare visitors to the offshore waters of the West Coast. It is an even rarer occurrence to find them on-shore in southern California. They feed mainly on squid. This bird's injury will require her to be housed for a long period of time, and any contributions for squid to keep this bird well fed is greatly appreciatedfeeding Wilbur

On examination, we found this bird to be female and to have a broken Tibiatarsel bone. This bone was shattered into several uneven pieces, which required a specialized orthopedic surgery. For a more detailed description of this surgery click on to www.lbah.com.

A cute little girl that was visiting the LBAH named this Laysan Albatross "Wilbur", despite the fact it is a female. She said it was named after the Albatross in Walt Disney's movie "The Rescuers". How could we call it anything but Wilbur?

In one more week we will do another radiograph, reconfirming that everything is healing correctly. In just a couple of days, Wilbur will go from her recovery area, a smaller cage that prevents her from thrashing around and re-injuring herself, to a flight cage. This flight cage was designed and built just for Wilbur. Yes, others will use it once she's healed and released, but it is designed exclusively around her. This is another expense we would greatly appreciate any financial help with. There are no salaries at AWRE and 100% of all donations go directly to aid the injured wildlife.

This evening, after Wilbur's feeding, we noticed her breathing appeared to be somewhat labored. This is of major concern for us as it may be a symptom of a respiratory problem developing. It could also be caused by the day's exceptionally hot weather. If this breathing pattern is present tomorrow morning, we will start a battery of radiographs and tests to identify anything which might be developing. All this with the hope there is nothing wrong, just a symptom of a hot, spring day. We are a little over protective of our charges, but when you take into consideration there is a life that we are trying to save, we feel justified

Wilbur's breathing pattern returned to normal the next day and she even put on a little weight. Her flight cage has been completed and Wilbur is now taking up residence in her new abode.

Everything with Wilbur is very positive. We all have the greatest hopes for this bird to become fully recovered and healthy.  For donation information, please send an e-mail to recovery@awre.org or submit our general inquiry form.

Special Notes: Dr. Paul Cechner, our consulting surgeon, graciously donated his specialized talents to give this bird a chance to be returned to the wild. You have to understand that an Albatross needs to run 30 to 50 feet in order to gain enough speed to get airborne and without both legs this bird would eventually starve to death. Wilbur's surgery went very well and she is on the road to recovery, eating lots of squid and continuing her regimen of antibiotics. We greatly appreciate Dr. Cechner and Craig's wonderful work. Thanks to their donated efforts and kindness Wilbur will have a chance to be released back into the wild and be free once again. Thank you.

[Editor's note: Since this case story was published, Wilbur died unexpectedly   Wilbur's band number was traced and the following information has become available: Wilbur was banded on Tern Island, Hawaii, on 6 June 1984 and was an adult at the time of banding. This proves she was over 14 years old.] (05/28/98)


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May 27, 2016
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