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Florida Marlins catcher Brett Hayes talks about releasing rehabbed manatees back into the wild.
It was a great day for manatee lovers Tuesday as two of the beloved animals were released back into their natural habitat in Miami after weeks of rehabilitation.
Workers from the Miami Seaquarium got a little hand from members of the Florida Marlins, including catcher Brett Hayes, Marlin mascot Billy and members of the heavyweight all-male "Manatee" dance team.
One of the two sea cows, "Marlin," is a 585-pound manatee who was rescued in April. She was suffering from cold stress due to the frigid water temperatures we experienced in South Florida this winter. She was emaciated and sick at the time she was rescued, Seaquarium officials said.
The other manatee, a 700-pounder named "Wildcat," was rescued from the Indian River in Fort Pierce in June. He had ingested an abundance of fishing line and was unable to gather his own food.
Both were rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and were rehabbed at the Miami Seaquarium. After weeks of intense rehabilitation, both were deemed strong enough to return to the wild.
"It's an exciting day for us," said Jorge Pino, spokesperson for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Our goal is obviously to return them back into the wild as healthy as possible so they can live a normal life and thrive in the wild."
Hayes and the "Manatee" dance team members helped officials load up the animals, weighed them, and transported them to Jupiter, where they were released into the wild.
"I'll always remember this," said Hayes, 26. "This is a very unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to help out like this."