Manatee rehabilitated in Cincy returns to wild

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jan 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 17:48:29-05

CINCINNATI – A manatee who was rehabilitated at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden returned to the ocean last week.

Abigail the manatee weighed just 295 pounds and was suffering from cold stress when she was rescued from the Indian River system and flown to Cincinnati in 2013.

“Although manatees are built to live in the water and resemble walruses from Alaska, in fact, they are only suited for warm water above 76 degrees,” zoo Director Thane Maynard told WCPO. “If caught in cold waters they can suffer from symptoms similar to hypothermia and need to be nursed back to health.”

In Cincinnati, Abigail recovered and was up to 630 pounds by last October, when the zoo sent her back to the Miami Seaquarium ahead of her return to the wild.

Manatee Abigail released back into her natural waters

Check out this great footage of rescued manatee Abigail being released back into her natural waters yesterday, after successfully undergoing rehabilitation. This was a team effort led by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or #FWC.

Posted by Miami Seaquarium on Wednesday, January 20, 2016

“The real value of having manatees in a zoo is to help tell the story of wildlife and what it takes to protect endangered species in an increasingly crowded world,” Maynard said.

Manatees are considered a threated species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The Cincinnati Zoo has rehabilitated 14 manatees since they opened Manatee Springs in 1999. The facility features plants and animals native to Florida, serving as “a celebration of the beauty of the remaining natural areas in the Sunshine State,” Maynard said.

By the time Abigail was released last week, she had gained even more weight and was estimated to weigh between 700 and 800 pounds, Bay News 9 reported.