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National Zoo Sends Veterinarians To Gulf Region

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By Rebecca Sheir

Veterinarians from the National Zoo are heading to the Gulf of Mexico to help rescue birds affected by the oil slick.

It's part of a government-wide response to the worst oil leak in US history.

Of all the feathered denizens in the National Zoos birdhouse, one seems to grab visitors attention the most: the Roseate Spoonbill.

As acting bird curator Dan Boritt explains, the bird is native to the Gulf region.

"The Roseate Spoonbills are very large pink birds with a spoon-shaped bill that roam around the tidal flats, looking for small invertebrates and what not in the water," says Boritt.

But now that the water is slick with crude, veterinarians from various federal agencies are heading to the Gulf to help save the Spoonbill and other Gulf-dwelling creatures.

The National Zoos director, Dennis Kelly, says the Zoo is sending four vets, who "will be closely working with the bird releases that are going on, after the birds have been found and cleaned, and released back in to safety."

The Zoo also has 50 volunteers on standby, ready to assist with cleaning efforts. Because as both Kelly and Boritt point out, even after the oil is capped, the spills effect on wildlife could be felt for years to come.

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