Manatee and Mommy at Zoo Beauval


Though not a traditional time of year for manatee births, Zoo Parc de Beauval in France welcomed a manatee calf yesterday! The little one has been seen suckling and swimming near mom in its first 24 hours.

Manatees are born underwater and mom helps the calf get to the surface to take its first breath. The babies can usually swim on their own within the first hour after birth. While they only nurse as calves, they will grow to become hearty grazers...eating up to a tenth of their weight in algae, weeds and grasses in a single day!

Sometimes called sea cows, manatees are actually graceful swimmers despite their size. They never leave the water but need to come to the surface to breathe like all marine mammals. Often the only thing visible at the surface of the water is their nose, but below, their powerful tails can propel them along at 5 mph (8 kmph).

There are three species of this highly endangered animal, and they each live in different areas – one in the Amazon River, another along the west coast and rivers of Africa, and a third along the east coast of North America. Beauval Zoo is the only Zoo in France to have a manatee, which was born as part of as the European breeding program for this species (EEP). 

Baby and mom

Photo Credit: ZooParc de Beauval

SeaWorld Cares for Orphaned Baby Manatee

SeaWorld Orlando animal care specialists are a little bleary-eyed this week as they provide 24-hour care for a weeks-old, baby manatee. Orphaned by her mother, the female calf arrived at the park's rehabilitation center on July 24 after being rescued from the waters of Daytona Beach, Fla.

Every three hours the 3½-foot and 41-pound orphan is bottled-fed with the park's nutrient-rich baby formula that promotes weight gain. Her weight is taken every other day as animal care specialists closely monitor her progress. She remains in guarded condition and park veterinarians hope to eventually return her back to the wild.

Baby manatee orphan SeaWorld

Photo and video credits: SeaWorld Orlando

The animal was transported to SeaWorld by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Kee the Orphan Manatee

Baby “Kee,” found orphaned in the Withlaccoochee River in Florida arrived at the David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo in April 2009.  Weighing only about 50 pounds and estimated to be just a few weeks old, she is one of the smallest orphans ever treated at the Zoo’s hospital, and was considered to be in critical condition.  

Baby manatee lowry park feeding 1 a

Baby manatee lowry park feeding 1 b

Baby manatee lowry park feeding 3 

She is receiving 24-hour care including night feedings, and has had some ups and downs as she continues to adjust to formula.  Animal care staff has paired the baby with a large adult female (or cow) named “Pneuport” (name is a combination of her injury and the city near which she was found).  The baby and cow have reacted very positively to one another, often seen nuzzling and sleeping together, and the baby will sometimes swim on the cow’s back.  The keepers report that Pneuport is very sweet and attentive, acting as a mother figure, although unable to feed the baby.  

Because these photos don't show the whole little guy, we have also included this video of another baby manatee taken in 2008 at the Lowry Park Zoo: