Zoo Wroclaw has been preparing for the arrival of their new Manatee calf since this past November, when it was confirmed their female was expecting.
After consultation with other zoos, keepers at Wroclaw installed a special pen in their Manatee pool. They also stocked-up on special milk formula in preparation for the possibility that new mother, Ling, might have difficulty bonding with the calf.
When Ling’s labor began on March 3rd, staff members at Zoo Wroclaw were more than prepared for the new arrival. The little female entered the world at 10:41 a.m., and the Zoo managed to capture the beautiful scene on video.
According to keepers, right after birth, the female measured about 115 cm, and weighed about 20 kg.
The new Manatee calf is the first of her kind to be born at Wroclaw, so her caretakers opted to give her a fitting name—Lavia (from the word Vratislavia).
The Zoo’s prenatal preparations proved beneficial when it became apparent to keepers that Ling was not nursing her new calf as they had hoped. Staff began utilizing the special formula soon after the calf was born.
Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals (also known as “sea cows”). They are found in the shallow, marshy coastal areas and rivers of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico (Trichechus manatus, West Indian manatee), the Amazon basin (T. inunguis, Amazonian manatee), and West Africa (T. senegalensis, West African manatee).
Manatees are classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN. Because they are large, slow-moving animals that frequent costal waters, they are vulnerable to hunters seeking their hides, oil, and bones. They are often accidentally hit by motorboats and sometimes become entangled in fishing nets. Due to their threatened status, captive breeding in zoos plays an important role in manatee conservation. According to Zoo Wroclaw, these docile giants live in only 19 zoological gardens in the world, including 10 in Europe.
Each calf born is treasured, and each Manatee birth is a celebrated stepping-stone to the survival of the species.
(More pics below the fold!)