A two-year-old Manatee rescued in Florida arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo to continue his rehabilitation before being released back into the wild.
Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo
BamBam was rescued from a canal in Brevard County, Florida in January 2015. He was treated for severe cold stress at SeaWorld Orlando before moving to the Cincinnati Zoo in October.
“He is quite energetic, which is what you’d expect from a young Manatee in a new environment. The cold stress on his tail has caused some tissue damage, however it does not appear that his mobility is compromised at all,” said Cincinnati Zoo curator Winton Ray. “Upon his arrival in Cincinnati, BamBam weighed 335 pounds, which represents a healthy, 100-pound weight gain since June.”
He joined 25-year-old Manatee Betsy, who weighs almost seven times as much as he does, in the zoo’s Manatee Springs tank. “Since being introduced to Betsy, keepers have seen exactly what they expected and were hoping for,” says Ray. “He is very ‘clingy’ towards her, and she is patient and gentle with him.”
The Cincinnati Zoo is one of two United States zoos outside of Florida that participate in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program. The goal of this program is to rescue and treat sick or injured Manatees and then release them back into the wild.
A subspecies of West Indian manatees, Florida Manatees are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect Manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.
See more photos of BamBam below.