SeaWorld Orlando returns first manatee of the year, begins care for two more

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This morning, an adult female manatee was returned to the waters of Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Fla., after receiving care and rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando for the last year.

“Piggy” was rescued due to cold stress by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) from St. John’s River in Palatka, Fla. on February 7, 2013. Following her rescue, Piggy was transported to SeaWorld Orlando for medical care and rehabilitation. Over the past year, Piggy has received continual treatment, including antibiotics, fluids and other supportive care. After being medically cleared for today’s return, the 725-pound manatee was transported by SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue Team to Blue Spring State Park, a designated manatee sanctuary.

In addition to today’s return, an adult female manatee was rescued yesterday from Blue Spring State Park. The SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team was called to assist with her rescue after the FWC noticed the animal was emaciated, lethargic and behaving abnormally. This is not the first time SeaWorld Orlando has provided care to this manatee, who has been identified as Georgia. In 1991, an orphaned calf at the time, she was rescued from Brunswick, Ga, and was brought to SeaWorld Orlando for care until she was returned to Blue Spring State Park in 1997. She was close to six years of age, more than 10 feet long, and weighed 1,635 pounds at the time of her return.

Seventeen years and six calves later, the nearly 11-foot-long manatee was rescued again by the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team with assistance from FWC staff and volunteers. She was then transported to SeaWorld Orlando yesterday, where the park’s animal care team and veterinary staff performed a complete health exam and began providing an antibiotic treatment and fluids. Georgia will continue to be monitored and more testing will be done to determine what medical attention the large manatee needs.

In addition, the FWC also located an orphaned female calf in the DeSoto Canal near St. Petersburg, Fla., late yesterday. The 122-pound calf is a little over four feet long and was determined to be a dependent calf. Upon her arrival at SeaWorld Orlando, she was given a full health assessment and will continue to be monitored and provided around-the-clock care. The calf joined four other orphaned manatees that were rescued late last year.

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Clint Gamache started Thrillgeek back in 2013 to share his love of theme parks, pop culture and other geeky stuff with the world. He can be found on Twitter @cgamache83