Featured Image Credit: SeaWorld Orlando
Just a few short years after she was rescued, a female manatee has finally returned to Florida’s natural waters. In a bittersweet moment in Port St. John, SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue Team released Blanche and watched her slowly swim away. Thanks to to the facility and team of veterinarians that guided her through the rehabilitation process, the 3-year-old seacow is now ready to begin her new life in the wild. Bye Blanche!
SeaWorld Orlando took to Facebook to share the sweet seacow moment:
Blanche was an orphaned calf, estimated to be only two weeks old, when she was found swimming alone in the Indian River on July 21, 2014. The seacow was rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and brought to SeaWorld Orlando ASAP. Weighing in at only 48 lbs and measuring just 48 inches in length, Blanche required around-the-clock care, including regular bottle feedings (awe). The young manatee responded really well to the immediate care and continued to thrive in SeaWorld’s care. Every day spent at the Manatee Rehabilitation Center meant another day closer to her natural environment.
One of the most critical elements of the manatee rehabilitation process is weight gain. Rescued manatee orphans must weigh at least 600 pounds before they can be considered strong candidates for return by the Florida Fish and Wildlife. Today, Blanche weighs an amazing and healthy 775 pounds… meaning she is no little lady.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue Team and FWC recorded Blanche’s final measurements moments before release and fitted her with a belt that allows the to track her success in the wild. Blanche is the sixth rehabilitated manatee SeaWorld has released this year!
Rescuing almost 30,000 animals since their inception 50 years ago, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is the most well respected rescue and rehabilitation program in the world. The AZA accredited facility’s #1 goal is to rehabilitate and release ill or injured marine animals back into the ocean. SeaWorld plays a crucial role in the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership by acting as an acute care facility and provide life-saving medical care to rescued manatees.