Rescued manatee healthy, released back into wild - WFLA News Channel 8

Rescued manatee healthy, released back into wild

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Crews with the South Florida Museum released 'Cheeno' into the Orange River in Ft. Myers on Jan. 7. Photo courtesy South Florida Museum Crews with the South Florida Museum released 'Cheeno' into the Orange River in Ft. Myers on Jan. 7. Photo courtesy South Florida Museum
BRADENTON, FL (WFLA) -

A manatee suffering from cold stress that was rescued and taken to Lowry Park Zoo for treatment has been released back into the wild.

Crews with the South Florida Museum released "Cheeno" into the Orange River in Ft. Myers on Jan. 7.

"His release went smoothly - he did a ‘happy to be in water’ tail slap as soon as he was wet and partially submerged in the river’s waters,” said Marilyn Margold, the Museum’s Director of Living Collections.

Cheeno was tagged with a GPS tracking device and will be monitored for up to a year to make sure he is adjusting well to life in the wild.

He was rescued in the Caloosahatchee River in February of 2012 and taken to Lowry Park Zoo for critical care, then was transferred to the South Florida Museum for continued care.

Cold stress is a condition similar to frostbite. Extended exposure to water colder than 68 degrees may cause the development of skin lesions and pneumonia in manatees, according to a museum spokesperson.

To stay healthy, manatees typically migrate to warmer waters such as warm springs or power plants.

Cheeno had reached a healthy weight of 740 pounds at the time of his release. He weighed 465 pounds when he arrived at the South Florida Museum.

As part of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, the South Florida Museum is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

The museum is also the permanent home to Snooty™, Manatee County’s official mascot and the oldest known manatee in the world.

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