Did you know you can go nose-to-nose with manatees at the Zoo? Your kids can marvel at these gentle sea cows in the Zoo’s serene Manatee Mangrove located in the Florida realm. It’s also the perfect backdrop for a quality Instagram photo of the kiddos observing these mesmerizing giants. However, there is so much more to the Zoo’s manatee program.
The adorable manatees you see at the Zoo are actually patients recovering from severe injuries and sickness at the Zoo’s David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center. We are thrilled that after extensive renovations to the Critical Care Center, the Zoo is once again supporting manatees in need of care. The center is the first nonprofit acute care facility for injured, sick and orphaned wild manatees.
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Did you know that the manatee patients you visit at the Zoo don’t actually call the Zoo home? Once they are healthy again, it’s our goal to return manatees to Florida waters. Guests have the amazing opportunity to see our hardworking manatee care team look after these animals. You can watch life-saving care in real time – that’s pretty cool!
An iconic Florida species, manatees face serious threats from pollution, habitat degradation and human conflict, including boat strikes. Severe red tide emergencies along Florida’s coast have further imperiled these threatened marine mammals. Manatees are resilient, especially mother manatees that continue to heal while still caring for their calf. As a mother, that bond and strength is something special to see.
As more rescued manatees come to ZooTampa’s Critical Care Center, families will have the opportunity to observe these graceful, slow moving sea cows as they recover and rehabilitate. Our devoted care team is devoted to providing advanced, specialized medical treatment and rehabilitation for manatees that are orphaned or injured by boat strike, entangled in fishing line or suffering from cold stress.
As an Associate Curator for the Zoo, I’m passionate about being a voice for Florida manatees. There is nothing quite like caring for an animal back to health every day and then releasing back to Florida waters. The moment they swim away and you see their snout come up for air is unforgettable. We can co-exist and ensure they’re around for future generations. As a mother, I want to encourage my daughter to be mindful of these majestic animals and protect them in the wild. It’s up to all of us.