In August of last year, Gina and Paul Castronovo hosted a memorial service at their home, to celebrate the life of Gina’s dear friend Carolyn, who recently passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.

During the afternoon service, a White Ibis appeared on the floating dock behind their home and stayed throughout the event. Since Carolyn had lived her life as a devout Miami Hurricanes fan, many in attendance interpreted this as a sign. (The mascot for the Miami Hurricanes is an ibis.)

The following day, Gina noticed that the ibis was still in the same location, and she feared that the bird was injured. Gina climbed down from her property onto the floating dock in the canal behind her home, to rescue the injured bird. Because the floating dock was a steep drop from the edge of her property, Gina had a difficult time holding the injured ibis and getting back up to her yard. However, with the help of her neighbor next door, she was able to safely retrieve the ibis.

The ibis came into SFWC the following day, and after examination by our veterinary staff and X-rays, it was determined that the ibis was suffering from a double fracture of her left wing.

White ibis pre-surgery

SFWC veterinarians Dr. Amanda Grant and Dr. Antonia Gardner decided to perform a very complicated orthopedic procedure, which involved the insertion of two pins to stabilize the wing. Photos below were taken just after the pins were inserted during surgery.

White Ibis with shattered left wing (ulna & radius bones)-- Pre and post op surgery x-rays. Bird is currently undergoing rehabilitation at the South Florida Wildlife Center.

Below, Dr. Grant is seen changing the bandage of the ibis several days after surgery.

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After approximately two months of rehabilitation, which included physical and laser therapy, the ibis was moved outdoors to a habitat specifically designed for marsh birds. SFWC outdoor habitats are designed to provide additional conditioning and give birds a chance to hone their flight skills before their release back to nature.

After several weeks of outdoor flight time, the veterinary staff was thrilled to report that the ibis was flying perfectly!

SFWC contacted Gina with the wonderful news of the bird’s full recovery, and plans were quickly made to release the ibis at Gina and Paul’s home. Gina planned a lovely gathering of friends–a “release party”–and invited the guests that were in attendance that day for the “celebration of life” memorial service for her dear friend Carolyn.

Watch video of Gina Castronovo opening the door to freedom for the ibis she rescued several months prior.

Gina opening the door for the release!


SFWC acknowledges the compassion and courage of Gina Castronovo. Because of Gina, this ibis was given the opportunity to fully recover from her injuries.