Brown Pelicans are Marine Debris Ambassadors at National Zoo

Brown pelicans float in their exhibit pool.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is home to Wendy and Tinkerbell, two brown pelicans found entangled in fishing line in Florida. The Zoo acquired Wendy and Tinkerbell in 2001, since they could not be released into the wild with their sustained injuries, and they now serve as living reminders of the damage that abandoned fishing gear can cause to wildlife. The pelicans are part of American Trail, a series of exhibits featuring iconic North American wildlife.

In 2013, the NOAA Marine Debris Program, along with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, helped launch an initiative that will allow American Trail to include information on derelict gear and its impact. The exhibit will feature messages, new graphics, interactive displays, and information from volunteer interpreters that will raise awareness and motivate visitors take action. The new exhibit features will debut by spring 2014.