Sandal-wearing Great Blue Heron released after successful rehab

ELLISTON (WSLS 10) - It's what a local wildlife rescue group calls a miracle.

A great blue heron was released in the New River Valley on Thursday thanks to a pair of custom-made shoes and quick action from wildlife rehabbers.

This is a follow up to a story WSLS 10 first told you about last week.

The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center rehabilitated the heron found in Elliston after two biologists found him lying on the ground during a hike.

It only had a slim chance of survival, but the center was able to make sandals for the heron so it could walk again.

Haley Olsen-Hodges, a bird expert at the Southwest VA Wildlife Center, worked along with Dr. Diane D'Orazaio, and Executive Director Sabrina Garvin along with volunteers and staff to save the bird.

"I got to watch him as he came in and held him in my hands and to care for him day after day," Olsen-Hodges said. "I watched him go from this sickly, almost dead to being able to allow him, to release him myself. Seeing him in the wild. That's what makes this worth it," Olsen-Hodges said.

Another heron was nearby during the release. Staff at the center say it could possibly be its mate.

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