Featured Image Credit: SeaWorld Orlando
Four lucky manatees got a second chance at life thanks to the Jacksonville Zoo, SeaWorld Orlando, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), South Florida Museum, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and the Sea to Shore Alliance. The four marine mammals, named Cassie, Buckeye, Bambam, and Gale, were returned to their natural waterways this week.
Cassie was rescued in August of 2015 when she was an orphaned calf in Ormond River. SeaWorld Orlando took her in. At the beginning of her rehab she only weighed 66 pounds and required bottle feedings every three hours. For the last six months she’s been at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. When she was returned to the wild she weighed 890 pounds.
When he was only a few weeks old Buckeye was found orphaned in Daytona Beach in September 2015. He weighed only 64.5 pounds at the time of rescue. After rehabbing he was taken to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for the last six months. He weighed in at 688 pounds at the time of his release.
Bambam was rescued in January of 2015 when he was found suffering from cold stress as a young calf. He was stabilized and flown to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, where he spent two years being rehabilitated. A big part of that rehab was making sure he gained weight.
Gale was rescued in December of 2016 along with her mother. The pair was suffering from cold stress. Unfortunately Gale’s mother didn’t recover from her injuries and passed away not long after she was rescued. Gale was transferred to South Florida Museum to continue her rehabilitation and gain more weight.
The four manatees were cared for at different institutions through the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP). The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state and federal organizations that work together to rescue, rehabilitate, and monitor manatees. By working together they can shift rehab animals between facilities so that there is room for future rescues.
Before they were released, the manatees were weighed and measured by FWC and three were fitted with a belt that will allow the Sea to Shore Alliance to track their migration in the wild. Along with the four animals that were released, SeaWorld Orlando transferred a young rescued manatee to the Jacksonville Zoo.