Pierre the Pelican, eponymous mascot of the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team, suffered a broken beak during a pickup basketball game with other mascots and will undergo "surgery" later today, the team announced this afternoon in a press release.
The team says Pierre was driving to the basket during a game this past Saturday that included NBA mascots Grizz, Rocky and Slamson, as well as Gumbo from the Saints, when he was fouled by Memphis’ Grizz. Pierre is said to have suffered the broken beak after running into the padded stanchion that holds up the basket and backboard.
Pierre has been the object of near-universal ridicule since his debut at the beginning of this season, and team officials had announced, unofficially, that the mascot costume would undergo a revision before the NBA All-Star Game to be held this weekend in New Orleans.
The Pelicans said Pierre will undergo surgery at Ochsner Medical Center on Monday evening, conducted by Team Physician Dr. Mathew McQueen. McQueen has crafted a treatment plan together with Carolyn Atherton, the Audubon Zoo’s Curator of Birds.
“This will be a rather unconventional surgery for us. I am not sure we have something to compare this to,” McQueen was quoted as saying. “It will be quite complicated and will require the use of some unconventional tools and instruments to reconstruct his beak.”
“We do see a lot of head trauma cases with pelicans,” says Audubon’s Atherton. “Since they are plunge-divers, sometimes they’ll hit sharp objects, and a lot of time they’ll have tears in their pouch or even eye problems.”
Atherton says the Zoo has treated a number of pelicans for injuries similar to Pierre’s (though no word on whether those injuries were basketball-related). “After they’ve been treated, they’ve all come back looking bigger, stronger, faster and ready to take on the world.”
Fox Sports New Orleans will air a story on Pierre’s injury and recovery during halftime of the Pelicans’ matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks this Wednesday, Feb. 12. The game will tip-off at 7 p.m.
The team is asking fans to send Pierre well-wishes at his Twitter account, using the hashtag #GetWellPierre.
The Pelicans say they will issue an update on Pierre’s condition this Tuesday.