Three manatees that recently underwent rehabilitation in Ohio zoos have been returned to Florida as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Program.
The animals were accompanied by manatee care experts during their flight and were taken to the Miami Seaquarium, SeaWorld Orlando and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
The manatees are expected to be released back into the wild in the winter, in the areas where they were originally rescued.
Two of the manatees had been rescued separately in Florida in 2001 after suffering from cold stress. Another manatee was rescued after swimming alone in the Indian River system.
Another manatee, which had been rescued in Florida and cared for at Miami Seaquarium, will remain at the Columbus Zoo.
“Without a doubt, manatees are one of the most charismatic creatures and certainly one of both Ohio zoos' most popular animals,” said Thane Maynard, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. “We are extremely proud to be part of this conservation program and excited to welcome both Abigail and Rae to Ohio.”
The manatee rescue program began in 1973. Its purpose is to release the rehabilitated manatees back into their wild habitat.