In fact, since the Center reopened in November of 2021, more than a dozen manatees have been carefully returned to the warm waters there. In one day alone, a record seven manatees were released!
Take a look at some of our “Celebri-tees” – the paparazzi didn’t always get the best pictures, because manatees enjoy their privacy and command our respect!
Pebbles was rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in February 2021. She was suffering from boat strike wounds, cold stress and malnutrition. She weighed just 390 pounds when she was rescued. After almost two years of care at ZooTampa she is now a healthy 915 pounds! She was released into the warm, welcoming waters of our Manatee Viewing Center on January 10, 2023.
Corduroy was rescued in St. Petersburg with head trauma and a propeller wound across his face. Fortunately, he survived the initial injury but was left with neurologic issues and multiple skull fractures. When he first arrived at ZooTampa, he was monitored closely and tube-fed daily. He made a remarkable recovery and is getting a second chance after a complete resolution of his neurologic issues and the healing of his skull fractures. Corduroy was released on January 10, 2023 at the Manatee Viewing Center.
Keeks was a tiny, orphaned calf rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2018 near Clearwater, FL. She was about 100cm long and estimated to be days old at the time of rescue. After about three years of care at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, she was released at the Manatee Viewing Center on February 15, 2022.
Truffleshuffle was one of seven manatees released at the Manatee Viewing Center on February 15, 2021 – a record day! The 580-pound male manatee was rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as an orphaned calf in Largo in November of 2018. He weighed just 205 pounds at the time of his rescue, and was sent to SeaWorld for care. He is being monitored by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute via GPS tag and doing great!
Ozzy is a 650-pound manatee released at the Manatee Viewing Center in December. He was suffering from red tide exposure when rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and rehabilitated at SeaWorld. True to his rock n’ roll namesake, he got lots of cheers when he was returned to his native waters. Rock on, Ozzy!
Chandler is a 700-pound manatee rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and rehabilitated at ZooTampa’s David A. Starz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center. At the time of his rescue, Chandler weighed 490 pounds and was suffering from cold stress. Considered an inexperienced juvenile due to his age and size, he was released at the Manatee Viewing Center in January, where he’ll learn how to migrate from the warm water sanctuary as temperatures rise.
Baylo was suffering from red tide exposure when she was rescued in St. Petersburg by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The 600-pound manatee was rehabilitated at ZooTampa’s David A. Starz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center and returned to her native waters at the Manatee Viewing Center in December of 2021.
Rubble is a 600-pound female manatee rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and ZooTampa last February. She was suffering from cold stress in the Rocky Creek area of Tampa. Rubble was rehabilitated at “The Seas with Nemo & Friends” attraction at Epcot. After a year of care she returned to her native waters at the Manatee Viewing Center in February.
You can help prevent manatees from needing rescue. When boating, be sure to follow slow and no wake zone signs, stay out of seagrass beds, and wear polarized sunglasses to make it easier to see manatees. Correctly dispose of monofilament line and trash as manatees are curious and can get entangled. Cut back on your usage of fertilizer and fix leaking septic tanks to reduce nutrients from entering our waterways, which can lead to algae blooms that harm manatees and other marine life.
If you see an injured manatee, please call the FWC hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).