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He’s called a peli-can for a reason.

By Chad Taylor
March 01, 2021
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pelican at Bronx Zoo
Credit: Courtesy of Bronx Zoo

Behold, Amos! A white pelican and the Bronx Zoo's newest Animal Ambassador.

There are two things in this world that just about everyone loves: heartwarming stories of animals beating the odds in a triumphant comeback, and videos of giant birds waddling around like humans who may have had too much to drink. This story has both of those things.

Back in 2016, Amos was found floating in waters of Corpus Christi, Texas with his wings drooping. He was taken to the Wildlife Rescue Center at the nearby Texas State Aquarium, where it was revealed that the pelican had been shot—most likely while in flight, judging by the damage to both of his wings. Vets were able to stabilize his condition and save Amos's life, but he's unable to extend his right wing fully, meaning he'll never fly again.

Since a flightless bird the size of a toddler wouldn't have the best chances for success in the wild, Amos needed to transition to a life of comfortable captivity. But Amos isn't like other birds. He's a people person. A go-getter. So while your average, abruptly flightless pelican might be content to just kick back with a bucket of fish heads and watch the game on TV, Amos started networking.

For as long as humans have interacted with animals, we've found ways of giving them jobs. Not only are they just better at certain things than we are, but few things feel as good to our big, human hearts as seeing a pupper with a purpose. And while Amos might not be a finely-tuned athlete, he does come equipped with a very special set of skills: most notably, a friendly personality and a goofy, wobbly body.

His affable, outgoing nature made him a fast favorite among the Texas State Aquarium's keepers and visitors alike and, when it came time to find him a forever home, he seemed like a natural fit for the Bronx Zoo's Animal Ambassadors program.

Amos joins nearly 200 other Bronx Zoo animals with similar backstories who are part of the team tasked with greeting families, campers, and student groups who visit the zoo. As visitors learn more about these animals and their stories, the hope is that they'll develop an interest in the tremendous work of veterinarians, animal rehab specialists, and zookeepers around the country who work to save animals just like Amos.

"This is an excellent example of accredited zoos and aquariums working together to save an animal that was negatively impacted by the deliberate action of people," said Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny in a press release. "Amos was in bad shape, but thanks to excellent work of the animal care staff at the Texas State Aquarium and Bronx Zoo, this charismatic bird is thriving and will help us further our mission through his story."

We can't wait to see what's next for this incredible bird. If you'd like to check out Amos and his new pals in-person, the Bronx Zoo is open for ticketed guests.