SeaWorld Orlando is typically in the hot seat when it comes to animal welfare news stories, but last week their Animal Care Team released two manatees into the wild after rescuing and nursing them back to health.
Both of the manatees were rescued by SeaWorld due to “cold stress.” Mud Puppy, a 765-pound manatee, was rescued from the Indian River in Indialantic, FL in January 2011. Bodacious, an 800-pound manatee was rescued from the San Sebastian River in Sebastian, FL in February 2011.
Manatees typically swim to warmer waters during periods of cold weather, but not all of them are able to move fast enough to find protection. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that 112 manatees died from freezing temperatures in 2011.
Mud Puppy and Bodacious had to be tube-fed fluids to keep them hydrated and treated with antibiotics. Once they were feeling better, they spent the rest of the year rehabilitating.
Michelle Davis, senior veterinarian at SeaWorld Orlando, said, “Bodacious and Mud Puppy have been doing great for several months. They’re in great condition.”
On February 7, the Animal Care Team transported the manatees to the Banana River where they were carried into a canal and released. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tagged the animals with transponders and will continue to monitor their progress.
Davis said, “We placed some markings on Bodacious and Mud Puppy, on their backs, with some non-toxic paint so that we can follow them from above when they’re underwater and we can tell where they’re going and who’s who.”
Davis reported that the animals are healthy and active since their release and is pleased with the success of the project. During the past 45 years the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment company has rescued more than 20,000 sick, injured and orphaned animals.