Zoo Animals

Pink-backed pelican

Pelecanus rufescens

At the Detroit Zoo
The Detroit Zoo is home to six pink-backed pelicans that arrived in June 2014. They can be found in their American Grasslands habitat with the guanacos.

The pink-backed pelican is among the smallest of pelican species. Its plumage is white, gray and pink with dark gray wing tips; the pink back and rump can only be seen when the wings are unfolded. Its pouch, the most spectacular feature of the bird, is tucked between its long beak and neck. The yellow beak has a large hook at the tip for gripping fish. A mature individual has long feather plumes on the back of its head.

Fun Facts

  • Pink-backed pelicans cannot sweat, so when they get hot they cool themselves by fluttering air over the moist skin on the inside of their throat pouches.