A 28-year-old California Gull considered one of the oldest in North America was set to be released back into the wild Friday after several months of intense rehabilitation, wildlife officials said.
Ashley Kinney, animal care supervisor at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, said the bird was found lying on the ground by a Santa Clara resident back in August.
Officials at the Wildlife Center were called and the ailing gull was taken in for treatment.
An initial exam found the native gull to be suffering from leg injuries, compromised mobility, emaciation, dehydration and anemia.
During the exam, wildlife officials also discovered that the gull had a federal identification band on its leg.
A call to the Bird Banding Laboratory at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center confirmed that the gull had been banded in Mountain View by the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory in 1985.
At more than 28-years-old, the gull has broken the longevity record for the species, wildlife officials said.
“The metal ID band helped us recognize that this gull was significant, in that it gives a history of the bird,” Kinney said in a news release. “We were absolutely astonished to find out it was the oldest one on record.”
Basic blood work determined that the level of dehydration and anemia was substantial.
The gull was set up in a low-stimulus environment where it received multiple rounds of anti-inflammatory medication, oral fluids and tube feedings containing a special species-specific slurry of nutrients.
Wildlife officials said the gull surprised them with its resilience. Within seven days of intensive care, the gull started to stand and eat on its own, and by the end of week two, was fully stable.
After nearly four months of care, the gull is now ready to fly free once again, officials said.