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An adult female Manatee named Joannie, who was rescued from a Florida river, gave birth July 13 to a full-term male calf at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The birth marks only the fourth in the zoo’s history, with the first occurring in May 2000. While at the Zoo, Joannie has also became a surrogate mother to an orphaned calf.

The male newborn, nicknamed Lad, is healthy and weighed 66.8 pounds after birth, and has been growing at the rate of approximately 10 pounds per week.

At the time of her rescue on January 31, Joannie was suffering from cold stress, which can be likened to hypothermia in humans.  The consequences of cold stress can be severe and often result in death.  Aware that she was expecting, the Zoo's Manatee rehab team monitored Joannie carefully to find out if the calf had survived its mother's life-threatenting condition.



After the birth of Lad, Joannie became a surrogate mother to an orphan Manatee nicknamed Cheeno.

Cheeno arrived at the Zoo on February 15 suffering from cold stress as well. Though not a newborn, he has now established a bond with Joannie. On occasion, Lad and the 142-pound Cheeno can be observed nursing at the same time, on opposite sides. With Joannie’s help, Cheeno is packing on the pounds. 

The Zoo’s Manatee rehab team hope to release the mother Manatee with her own dependent calf and “adopted” orphan calf this fall or winter. 

Photo Credits:  Dave Parkinson