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St James’s Park's pelicans have withdrawn from public life

Gifted to the park in 1664 by the Russian Ambassador, the pelicans have always roamed free

Written by
Ellie Muir

A normal day in the life of Gargi, Tiffany, Isla, Sun, Moon and Star (St James’s Park’s resident pelicans) consists of preening their feathers and basking on their favourite rocks. But their usual activities have ground to a halt after they’ve had to quarantine in their enclosure on Duck Island, following a human bird flu infection in the South West of England. 

It’s not all bad news, though. Gargi and friends are said to be in perfect health, and these measures are merely precautionary at this stage.

We want to reassure the public that all six pelicans are healthy, and we hope that they will be back out and about preening themselves by the lake, soon,’ a Royal Parks statement said.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed that risk continues to be very low to the wider public. But visitors are advised not to feed or touch wildlife and to report any sick or dead birds seen in the park to the authorities.

‘During the avian influenza outbreak we have been carrying out enhanced monitoring of our waterbodies across all parks to check for signs of illness and to ensure that any carcasses are removed immediately,’ Royal Parks added.

According to the UK Health Security Agency, it is extremely rare for strains of bird flu to pass from birds to humans. It usually requires close contact with an infected bird, so the risk to humans is considered very low.

‘To date, we have not been alerted to any nearby outbreaks of the disease, and we’ve not observed avian influenza in the birds that frequent the waterbodies.’

The flock of six will be in quarantine until advised otherwise by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, but we wish them a speedy and healthy isolation, filled with Joe Wicks’ workouts and ‘Tiger King’.

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