Manatee

Columbus Zoo Welcomes Pair of Orphaned Manatees

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has welcomed two young Manatees, marking the 30th and 31st Manatees to arrive at the Zoo for rehabilitation since the Columbus Zoo joined the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 1999. The two males, Bananatee and Tostone, were both found as orphans off of the coast of south Florida. The pair began their rehabilitation journey at the Miami Seaquarium before recently arriving at the Columbus Zoo.

Bananatee was rescued from the Indian Creek Waterway outside of Miami, FL as an orphan calf on July 27, 2018. When he was initially brought to the Miami Seaquarium, he weighed only 42 pounds. He now weighs approximately 225 pounds, which is still considered small for a Manatee, as they can weigh up to 1,300 pounds as mature adults. Since Bananatee is still under a year old, the animal care team at the Columbus Zoo will need to bottle feed him to help supplement his diet as he continues transitioning to eating lettuce.

Tostone was rescued from the Lake Worth Lagoon in Riviera Beach, FL on February 8, 2019. Tostone was also an orphan and had begun to show signs of cold stress. Upon his arrival at the Miami Seaquarium, Tostone weighed in at approximately 99 pounds and is now up to approximately 185 pounds.

Bananatee and Tostone have both joined the other three Manatees (Heavy Falcon, Carmen, and long-term resident, Stubby) at the Zoo’s 300,000-gallon Manatee Coast pool. However, while the new arrivals are still adjusting to their new environment, they will still have full access to behind-the-scenes areas.

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Manatees (Tostone and Bananatee) 0625 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Manatees (Tostone) 0471 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones /Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for Manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities, which work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released Manatees. Information about Manatees currently being tracked is available at www.manateerescue.org .

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was the first program partner outside of the state of Florida and is one of only two facilities outside of Florida to care for Manatees.

“We are proud to play a role in Bananatee’s and Tostone’s rehabilitation and eventual return to Florida waters, as we have with the other 29 Manatees who we have helped to rehabilitate since 1999 through this collaborative program,” said Becky Ellsworth, curator of the Shores region at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “Being part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation program is incredibly rewarding, and each Manatee holds a very special place in our hearts as we assist them throughout their journey and work to protect the future of their species.”

The threatened Florida Manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality, including exposure to red tide, cold stress, disease, boat strikes, crushing by floodgates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium supports field conservation projects for three of four living species of Manatees through its Conservation Fund. Providing grants to researchers on three continents (North America, South America and Africa), the Zoo contributes to rescue and rehabilitation in Florida, environmental education focused on the Amazonian Manatee in Colombia, and critical population surveys for the least known species: the West African Manatee.


Baby Manatee Born at Burgers' Zoo

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The Manatee care team at Royal Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands was in suspense for weeks awaiting the birth of a baby West Indian Manatee. Then, early in the morning of March 19, the waiting was over: a healthy baby was born.

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Manatee-calf-2Photo Credit: Royal Burgers' Zoo

At about five-and-a-half years old, the new mom is a first-time mother. Due to her inexperience, the care team is paying extra attention to how she tends to her newborn. So far, she appears to be caring for her baby properly. Manatees are mammals, and like all mammals, mothers provide milk for their young. Female Manatees’ nipples are located in the “armpits” just under the front flippers. The care team has seen the baby nursing regularly.

Burgers’ Zoo is the only zoo in the Netherlands to house Manatees.

Manatees are pregnant for about 12-14 months. There are a few outward signs when the female nears the end of her pregnancy, but these can last for weeks and are quite variable. Conducting an ultrasound on a marine mammal like a Manatee (which can weigh more than 1,000 pounds) is not practical. The care team knew they simply had to be vigilant and patient while awaiting the birth.

The newborn’s gender has not been confirmed, but the care team suspects it is a male. Manate calves nurse for up to two years, but they will nibble on solid foods, such as leafy vegetables, when they are just a few weeks old. In the wild, Manatees feed on plants, such as sea grasses, that grow in freshwater and saltwater environments.

Native to the Caribbean Sea and the eastern coastlines of North and South America, West Indian Manatees are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Just 50 years ago, there were only a few hundred Manatees remaining. Collisions with boats were a frequent cause of harm to Manatees. Today, Manatee populations have recovered and there are more than 6,000 individuals


Orphaned Baby Manatees Find Refuge at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed two rehabilitating Manatees on April 24. The two new additions, one male and one female, became the 28th and 29th Manatees to be rehabilitated at the Columbus Zoo since the zoo’s involvement in the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) began in 2001.

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Manatees (Group) 3412 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit: Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The 143-pound male calf is named “Heavy Falcon” – a nod to the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch that took place on February 6, 2018, which was also the day he was rescued. Heavy Falcon was found as an orphan in Crystal River, Florida and was taken to SeaWorld Orlando to begin his rehabilitation journey.

The female calf does not yet have a name and was rescued on February 8, 2018 with her mother off the coast of Florida. The female calf showed signs of cold stress, while her mother was negatively buoyant. Unfortunately, the calf’s mother succumbed to her serious injuries just two days after her rescue, leaving the female calf an orphan. After also beginning her rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando with Heavy Falcon, both Manatees have stabilized and will continue to recover in Columbus before their eventual releases into Florida waters.

The two new arrivals are now living in the zoo’s 300,000-gallon Manatee Coast pool. Both Manatees will also have access to behind-the-scenes areas as they continue to adjust to their new environment.

As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a second-stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for Manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

See more photos of the calves below.

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Zoo Wroclaw Welcomes First Manatee Calf

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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.

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4_DSC_2123Photo Credits: ZOO Wroclaw

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!)

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Manatee Calf Charms Visitors at Beauval Zoo

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Visitors to Zoo de Beauval have been enamored of a six-week-old West Indian Manatee, named Kali’na. The calf was born October 28 to her six-year-old mother, Lolita.

First-time mom, Lolita, originally gave birth to twin females. Typically, a Manatee calf will weigh around 20 kg at birth. Lolita’s calves weighed-in at 10 and 15 kg. Although veterinarians and keepers worked to save the smaller of the two females, she did not survive the first day.

Since that time, the remaining twin has been meticulously cared for by Lolita and keepers say they are both doing very well. Keepers named the new calf Kali’na in reference to a tribe native to Guyana.

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2_24831306_1827833867241551_7625735601941147475_oPhoto Credits: Zoo de Beauval

The West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus), or "Sea Cow", is the largest surviving member of the aquatic mammal order Sirenia (which also includes the Dugong and the extinct Steller's Sea Cow). As its name implies, the West Indian manatee lives in the West Indies, or Caribbean, generally in shallow coastal areas.

The gestation period for a Manatee is 12 to 14 months. Normally, one calf is born, although on rare occasions two have been recorded. The young are born with molars, allowing them to consume sea grass within the first three weeks of birth. The family unit consists of mother and calf, which remain together for up to two years. Males contribute no parental care to the calf.

The West Indian Manatee was placed on the Endangered Species List in the 1970s, when there were only several hundred left. The species has been of great conservation concern to federal, state, private, and nonprofit organizations to protect these species from natural and human-induced threats like collisions with boats. On March 30, 2017, the United States Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, announced the federal reclassification of the Manatee from “endangered” to “threatened”, as the number of Sea Cows had increased to over 6,000. On a global scale, the species is classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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Rescued Manatees 'Millennium' & 'Falcon' Land in Columbus

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Twin Manatees orphaned after their mother suffered fatal boat-related injuries arrived at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium this month as part of the zoo’s Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership.

Weighing about 100 pounds each, the twin calves were rescued from Florida waters earlier this year.  Twins are extremely rare among Manatees, making up about one to four percent of births.  The pair have been named Millennium and Falcon.

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Manatees 9077 (Falcon) - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit:  Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo & Aqaurium
The twins will join Stubby, a long-time resident of the zoo, and new arrivals Jedi and Junebug.  Manatees are very social animals and keepers expect the five to get along well. 

Most of the orphaned Manatees taken in by the Columbus Zoo and its partners are released back into the wild once they reach adulthood and are deemed able to survive on their own. 

Manatees give birth to live young and nurse their babies just like humans and other mammals.  Adults typically weigh more than 1,000 pounds.  They feed only on vegetation that grows on the sea floor and move slowly, never leaving the water.  Manatees live in coastal waters, rivers, and inlets, where they may encounter motorboats or become tangled in fishing nets.  They are listed as Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

See more photos of the twins below.

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Rescued Manatee Finds A Home At Cincinnati Zoo

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A two-year-old Manatee rescued in Florida arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo to continue his rehabilitation before being released back into the wild.

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Djjam (8)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.

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River Safari Cares for Abandoned Manatee Calf

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Born August 6th, 2014, female Manatee calf ‘Canola’ is the offspring of Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s largest Manatee, 23-year-old ‘Eva’. For unknown reasons, Eva abandoned her latest calf, despite having successfully raised eight offspring in the past and being a grandmother of two.

IMG 2 Aquarist Keith So bottle-feeds baby manatee Canola

IMG 4 Aquarist Keith So conducts physical check on baby manatee Canola

Baby manatee Canola swimming with manatee herd at River Safari's Amazon Flooded ForestPhoto Credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

To ensure that animals in River Safari retain their parental behaviors, zoologists strive to have the parents raise their offspring. In the case of Canola, there was no other option but to have aquarists hand-raise the newborn.

The 33kg (73 lb) abandoned calf, at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit, had to be watched 24 hours for the first few days, fed every two to three hours during the first three months, and re-introduced gradually to her family. It was a Herculean task that the team of aquarists dived into to give baby Canola a fighting chance to live.

Mr. Wah Yap Hon, Curator at River Safari, said, “Hand-raised animals tend to imprint on their human caregivers. The babies will attach themselves to, and learn certain behaviors from their human foster parents, and may not have a chance to bond with their family or other members of their species. In the case of Eva and Canola, we stepped in as a last resort to ensure the survival of this precious baby.”

Similar to caring for a human baby, hand-raising an animal baby requires planning and hard work. For Canola, it involved bottle-feeding every two to three hours, from 8am to 10pm daily, for the first three months. To increase her fat intake and substitute her mother’s highly nutritious milk, Canola was given a special milk formula infused with canola oil, which inspired her name. To ensure Canola’s safety, the aquarists moved her to a shallow holding pool, to minimize the risk of other manatees crowding her and making it challenging for her to rise to the water’s surface to breathe.

“Under the doting care and great team effort of her human caregivers, Canola steadily gained weight and hit all the important developmental milestones of a healthy calf. By December, Canola started swimming with the rest of the herd in the main aquarium, forming close bonds with her species,” said Wah.

Since February, Canola’s caregivers have gradually cut down on her milk intake to four feedings a day, to accommodate her increasing diet of vegetables. Manatees spend six to eight hours a day grazing on aquatic plants, which is why they are also known as ‘sea cows’. Adults typically consume 50-100kg 110lb to 220lb) of vegetation a day, equivalent to 10-15 percent of their body weight.

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Meet the Manatee Calf at ZooParc de Beauval

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On April 24, France’s ZooParc de Beauval welcomed a male Manatee who weighed 55 pounds at birth!  The not-so-little baby will spend the next two years living with his mother, Femore, in the zoo’s tropical exhibit. 

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10390110_837133642978250_6056935410077492482_nPhoto Credit:  ZooParc de Beauval

Manatees are the world’s only herbivorous aquatic mammals.  At the zoo, the Manatees collectively eat more than 500 pounds of vegetables each day.  Their favorites?  Lettuce and potatoes.  In the wild, Manatees feed on underwater grasses.  They live only in warm coastal waters and inland marshes. 

All three species of Manatees (South American, West Indian, and West Africa) are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  People are the main threat to Manatees, through collisions with boat propellers, toxic algae blooms, pollution, and entanglement in fishing gear.

The birth of this Manatee calf is important to the European Breeding Program. 

See more photos below.

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Rescued Manatee Orphan on the Mend at Lowry Park Zoo

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is well-known for its ongoing work rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing sick or injured West Indian Manatees found in Florida waters.

Their most recent addition is an orphaned Manatee named Jobin.  He was just a few days old and weighed just 55 pounds when he arrived at the zoo’s Manatee Hospital.  Now six weeks old, Jobin has gained almost 20 pounds! 

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Photo Credit:  Lowry Park Zoo

West Indian Manatees, also known as sea-cows, weigh up to 1,300 pounds as adults.  Manatees are mammals – hence, they nurse their young and give birth to live babies.  They feed on underwater vegetation and inhabit coastal waters, estuaries, and freshwater springs.  Manatees prefer warm shallow waters and often gather in large groups.

Manatees are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  They face threats from propeller strikes and toxic algae blooms.

The Lowry Park Zoo works in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Marine Research Institute, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured or sick Manatees.  The zoo’s Manatee Hospital is one of three critical care facilities in Florida to care for West Indian Manatees and the only non-profit facility.