PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - State wildlife investigators are interviewing witnesses and reviewing video to determine how a juvenile pelican was killed in Pass Christian on Sunday.
A social media post that went viral, claims float riders from the Mardi Gras parade pelted the bird with beads before it stumbled into traffic and was run over.
Meanwhile, another pelican story from "The Pass" has a happier ending. An injured pelican which was captured and given necessary medical attention, was returned to the wild on Wednesday.
"We're bringing a pelican back home today. He came to us with an injured throat pouch. And our veterinarian was able to repair that and he gets to go home today," said Missy Dubuisson, the director of Wild At Heart Rescue.
The pelican named Marty has been in the care and custody of Wild At Heart Rescue the past three weeks, healing from surgery to repair a torn pouch.
"What they'll do is they'll swoop down and get fish, then they'll tilt their head down and let the water drain out. Then they'll swallow the fish. Sometimes they'll get the catfish and it will cut, or if there's a hook in a fish," explained Doug Pojeky, the president of the rescue group.
"It can tear their little pouch open. And of course, if they don't have the proper pressure in that gullet pouch, they cannot swallow the fish properly to get proper nutrition," added Dubuisson.
Moments before the release, other pelicans arrive at the release site, as if to welcome their lost friend.
Marty adjusts to his newfound freedom a bit slowly at first; hopping down the dock and then enjoying time in the saltwater once again.
As a feeding osprey looks on from the top of a fishing boat's mast, the pelican preens and waterproofs his feathers.
As for the investigation into the dead pelican, Wild At Heart is forwarding all information, photos and video to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The organization found out about the incident minutes after it happened.
"Within 30 minutes of it happening we were getting chimed by all sorts of different people on the coast," said Pojeky, who says the group received more than 400 messages on social media.
At last, Marty briefly takes flight, much to the delight of his rescuers.
"Kind of brings a little happy ending to the tragedies over the weekend at the Pass parade, yes," said a smiling Dubuisson.