An orphan manatee is being returned to the wild after finishing 15 months of rehabilitation at the Miami Seaquarium. NBC 6's Justin Finch reports.
An orphan manatee is being returned to the wild after finishing rehabilitation at the Miami Seaquarium.
The 600-pound manatee, named Pilgrim, was loaded into a truck by a crane Thursday morning for his trip to Key Largo.
PIlgrim was rescued in the Florida Keys on Nov. 20, 2012, when he was seen floating in the water, suffering from a possible haul strike.
Biologists examined Pilgrim and found out he had a folded lung.
"With a folded lung, it's not going to resolve itself, and he wasn't eating," said Animal Care Manager Jodi Tuzinski. "He was a baby also, so I don't know how long he would have kept up with the others, and it was right at the beginning of winter, so it probably would not have been a good outcome."
Pilgrim, who was rescued as a young manatee, weighed 200 pounds when he was rescued. He will weigh 640 pounds when released.
The manatee will be released into his native waters off Key Largo after 15 months of care at the Seaquarium.
"He knows manatees out there. Hopefully they'll be able to meet up and he'll have a group to hang out with," Tuzinski said.
Pilgrim will be satellite tagged and monitored by biologists. To track Pilgrim, visit www.manateerescue.org.