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Great White Pelican

Pelecanus onocrotalus

Quick Facts

Scientific name: Pelecanus onocrotalus
Class: Bird
Weight: 11 to 33 pounds
Life span: 50 to 60 years
Conservation status: Least concern
Number of offspring: 1 to 3 eggs at a time

About

I LIVE IN AFRICA

The great white pelican is native to Africa and can be found living in shallow swamp areas. This species of bird can be found as far south as Cape Town, South Africa.


I AM A CARNIVORE

A great white pelican’s diet consists mainly of fish, as well as some small invertebrates.


GREAT WHITE PELICANS ARE SOCIAL

Great white pelicans will often live, feed, and fly in large groups called pods, sometimes with hundreds of pelican pairs.


BIG APPETITE, LITTLE CHICK

Even though great white pelicans lay two eggs, only one chick usually survives. Each pelican chick eats approximately 150 pounds of fish before it can search for food on its own. A week or two after hatching, a chick can crawl, but still not lift their heavy beaks. After another week, this species can walk and swim. They naturally run and flap their wings as they get older but cannot fly until nine or ten weeks old.


HELPING THE GREAT WHITE PELICAN IN THE WILD

The great white pelicans at the Zoo are enrolled in the Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSP is a program implemented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to help ensure a genetically viable population exists.


I AM IMPORTANT TO MY ECOSYSTEM

Pelicans play a very important role in their ecosystem’s food chain as both predator and prey.


Conservation

Learn more about our efforts, our conservation partners around the world, and the simple steps you can take to contribute.

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