Seven manatee red tide survivors rehabilitated at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo’s will be returned to Florida waters on July 9. The Zoo’s David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center is the only critical care facility to treat sea cows sick from red tide during this season’s bloom.
Largest Single Day Release Effort Planned For July 9
TAMPA, Fla. (July 8, 2013) — Seven manatee red tide survivors rehabilitated at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo’s will be returned to Florida waters on July 9. The Zoo’s David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center is the only critical care facility to treat sea cows sick from red tide during this season’s bloom.
Among the group going home to Lee County from the Zoo include: “Lorange,”a 400 pound female who arrived January 13; “Manlee,”a 880-pound male who arrived February 19; “Tide,” a 550-pound male who arrived March 5; “Eel,” a 745-pound female who arrived March 6; and “Flee,” a 905-pound female who arrived March 8. Two additional manatees known as “Cheer,” a 480-pound male who arrived February 20, and “Threepio,” a 860-pound male who arrived February 21, will be released by staff from Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park where they have been housed since March 14 after initial treatment at the Zoo to ensure the manatee hospital had space to accommodate critical care patients.
In 2013, a preliminary record number of 272 wild manatee deaths have been associated with red tide in Southwest Florida waters. Through extensive response efforts of The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners, 16 manatees overcome by the toxin were able to be rescued, clinging to life. Each was transported to the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo for critical care, where all but one survived.
To date, the Zoo has now taken in 321 manatees for critical care and rehabilitation since 1991 for a variety of severe illnesses and catastrophic injuries including boat strikes, cold stress, orphans, entanglement and red tide exposure.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) is the lead on manatee rescues, assists in manatee releases, conducts applied research, and provides scientific information used to protect, conserve and manage Florida's marine resources. For more information, visit www.MyFWC.com or contact Kevin Baxter at (727) 502-4789. To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), dial #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone, or email Tip@MyFWC.com.
The David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is the only non-profit hospital in the world specifically dedicated to critical care for injured, sick and orphaned wild manatees. The Zoo works in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to rescue, rehabilitate and release Florida’s endangered manatees. In 2012, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo was honored with a “Significant Achievement in North American Conservation Award” for its work with manatees, presented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Zoo has also received a $500,000 challenge match from Tampa residents Marylou and Jim Bailey dedicated to make significant improvements to the Zoo’s manatee facilities. Every two dollars received from the community will be matched by one dollar from the Bailey family to raise a total of $1.5 million.