ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Four rehabilitated manatees were returned to their natural waterways on Thursday by SeaWorld Orlando, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, South Florida Museum, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and Sea to Shore Alliance.
The goal with every rescue is to rehabilitate and return the animal as quickly as possible, but young manatee calves take additional time and resources. All four of these manatees were rescued at young ages and required extended rehabilitation and care.
Rescued manatee calves must weigh at least 600 pounds before they are considered strong candidates for return by the FWC. As naive manatees, this weight is optimal to ensure they are less susceptible to cold stress syndrome as they face their first winter in their natural environment.
Prior to all four returns, FWC recorded final measurements while Sea to Shore Alliance fitted three of the manatees with a belt that will allow them to monitor their success and track their migration in the wild.
Information provided by SeaWorld Orlando.