Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens returned an adult female manatee back to Florida waters Tuesday, Aug. 4. The manatee, named Marion after the county she was rescued in, is the 15th manatee released from the zoo’s Manatee Critical Care Center.
Marion was rescued at Salt Springs Run on May 18 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, along with the assistance of Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, after she was found to be excessively buoyant (floating higher than normal at the surface of the water) and suspected of having a GI tract issue. She was brought to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and treated for dehydration, where her health and buoyancy quickly improved. The zoo released her at the mouth of the run from Silver Glen Springs not far from her rescue location, but where there was less boat traffic and she could get right out to open water.
“We’re glad to get Marion back on her way after less than three months under our care. She made a great recovery, thanks to her quick rescue, and the dedication of our animal care team at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. We couldn’t be happier to share this positive news during this challenging time,” said Craig Miller, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens curator of mammals and leader of the Marine Mammal Response Team.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ Manatee Critical Care Center is an acute care, rehabilitation facility that provides life-saving medical treatment to rescued manatees. The manatee rescue and rehabilitation program is the zoo’s largest regional conservation initiative, caring for 22 manatees since the center opened in 2017.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, along with other zoos, aquariums, nonprofit organizations and state and federal agencies, which comprise the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership, work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at manateerescue.org. Florida manatees are a federally protected threatened species, at significant risk from both natural and human threats. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, disease, boat strikes, crushing by floodgates and locks, line entanglement and ingestion of pollution and debris are just some of the hazards facing one of our state’s most iconic animals.
If you discover an injured marine mammal, call the FWC hotline at (888) 404-3922.