A young pelican is safely back with its colony after being found washed up “cold, wet and disorientated” on a beach in St Leonards, Victoria.

The four-month-old bird was taken to Werribee Open Range Zoo by a Wildlife Victoria rescuer.

There a veterinary team deemed the bird too young to be independent.

That’s where Melbourne Zoo’s Marine Response Unit came in. Keeper Greg McDonald said the team embarked on an “epic” journey to return the pelican to its family on the Mud Islands, over 10 km off the coast.

“Young pelicans stay in a creche of up to 100 birds of the same age while their parents go out to fish, so we had to trek through the reeds to find its sibling,” McDonald said.

“Although it was a long journey it was absolutely worth it to ensure this pelican lives a long and happy life,” he added.

Credit: Melbourne Zoo via Storyful