SeaWorld Orlando and Cincinnati Zoo Collaborate on Manatee Rehabilitation and Care
In a continuation of their Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, SeaWorld Orlando will send a recently rescued manatee to the Cincinnati Zoo for rehabilitation. Orphaned manatees Miles and Mathew are also headed back to SeaWorld Orlando after spending time at the Cincinnati Zoo for additional rehabilitation. A young male manatee rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) in November 2018 is headed to Cincinnati to continue its rehabilitation. The multi-manatee swap is part of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), a collaborative program designed to rescue and treat sick, injured and orphaned manatees and then release them back into the wild.
The collaborative work of the MRP allows us all to provide the best possible care for these rescued animals,” explained Jon Peterson, manager of rescue operations for SeaWorld Orlando. “All of the facilities and agencies play a key role in manatee conservation, whether it’s rescuing the animals, providing around the clock care for manatee calves in critical condition or providing a temporary home until the have been deemed returnable. We’re all working together to give this threatened population a chance to survive.”
The Cincinnati Zoo is only one of two U.S. facilities outside of Florida to participate in the USFWS’ Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership, which began in 1973. They are a second stage rehabilitation facility that provide temporary homes for manatees until they are ready for release back into the wild.
“We know the Cincinnati Zoo will provide excellent care as these manatees finish their rehabilitation, with a goal of returning them to Florida waters,” added Peterson.
Meet the Manatees:
- Miles (male) was rescued from the Sykes Creek on Merritt Island, Florida in August 2016 by FWC, weighing only 43 pounds. After receiving extended critical care at Sea World Orlando, he moved to Cincinnati and has gained enough weight to be eligible for release.
- Matthew (male) was rescued from New Smyrna in October 2016 by FWC, just after Hurricane Matthew. He weighed 56 pounds when rescued but has gained more than 700 pounds while at SeaWorld and the Cincinnati Zoo.
- Truffleshuffle (juvenile male) was rescued by FWC in November 2018 and brought to SeaWorld Orlando suffering from cold stress. He has gained approximately 230 pounds in the past year and will continue to be cared for and rehabilitated at the Cincinnati Zoo, with a goal of returning him to Florida waters.
“Truffleshuffle will be the 20th manatee to be rehabbed at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden since Manatee Springs opened in 1999,” said Curator of Invertebrates & Manatees Winton Ray. “It’s an honor to participate in the MRP and have the opportunity to help these amazing animals get a second chance at life in the wild. The critical care work being done at SeaWorld, especially when these rescued manatees are first brought in, is vital to their rehabilitation and successful return.”
This year alone, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 18 manatees and returned 12 back to the wild following successful rehabilitation. Guests to SeaWorld Orlando can learn more about the vital rescue work SeaWorld does for wildlife at the park’s behind-the-scenes Rescue Center used for rehabilitating wildlife that has been ill, injured or orphaned – including manatees, sea turtles, birds and other marine animals.
While a guided tour of the entire facility has been available for years, the park has now opened up one portion of this area for complimentary viewing to all park guests. Visitors are invited to step behind-the-scenes and catch a glimpse of SeaWorld’s working manatee rescue and rehabilitation facility to learn more about the plight of these vulnerable animals in the wild. See firsthand some of the top problems today’s manatee populations are facing and simple actions we can all take to help through digital medical charts, interactive displays, underwater camera viewing and rescue footage straight from the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team.
For tickets and more information, visit the Sea World Orlando website by clicking here.
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