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A Mother's Fight For Her Calf

May 12, 2017

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A mother manatee and calf were rescued from a canal on Wednesday, May 10. After repairs to a culvert cut off their access to the Pithlachascotee River, the manatees were immediately taken to the Zoo for critical care and rehabilitation. Despite the mother’s extensive injuries, she managed to nurse for her 1-month-old calf against all odds.

TLPZ_Manatee calf (1)

Her tail was sliced by a boat propeller creating deep gashes. The photo below may be disturbing to some readers, but they show the reality for many manatees struck by boat propellers in local waterways.

Manatee Mom Tail

Despite the severe injuries on her tail, the mother manatee continues to care for her calf. The Zoo’s veterinary team will continue to assess her health and help determine appropriate next steps for rehabilitation. While the condition of the two manatees is stable, the Zoo will keep a close eye on both animals for any changes in behavior that could signal other health concerns. 

“We are relieved that we reached the mother and calf before their condition worsened,” said Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ray Ball, director of medical sciences. “While we celebrate the recovery of the Florida manatee species, we must also be mindful that means there is an increasing number of manatees in our oceans and waterways. Unfortunately, we can anticipate seeing more cases like this until boaters become more mindful and begin to self-report when accidents occur.”  

Over the Mother’s Day weekend and for the foreseeable future, the mother and calf will remain at the Zoo’s David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital, where they will be provided with exceptional veterinary care as they recover. The hospital is one of only a few manatee care centers in the state specifically dedicated to helping manatees brought in by boat strikes, cold stress, red tide, and entanglement in fishing lines and/or crab traps. To date, more than 400 manatees have been treated at the Zoo. 

While manatee numbers are increasing, we may continue to see more boat strike related injuries and death. To get more real-time updates and stories, like this one, follow our Facebook and Instagram



Join our mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release manatees -- click here to donate. 

Tags :

  • Rehabilitation
  • Critical Care Center
  • conservation
  • Manatee
  • Tampa Bay City Pass
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • affiliate4

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

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