TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A small orphaned manatee calf is receiving care at ZooTampa, in a year the state is seeing a high number of deaths of the threatened species and legislation has been introduced to upgrade the animal’s status back to “endangered.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission brought the manatee to the zoo last week from southwest Florida, according to a Facebook post.
“He was found around 45 pounds, which is a very small animal. And at that size, he should’ve been seen with his mom and unfortunately, she was nowhere to be found, so it was deemed that he needed to be rescued,” a biologist with the zoo said in a video posted to their Facebook page.
“Once he’s taking that bottle well, we’re looking for him to gain about a pound a day as he grows up,” the zoo said.
The calf will need to be around 600 pounds before it is released.
Currently, the animal can’t be seen by the public, but it will be in the front pools for guests to see when it recovers.
“He’ll be here for a couple of years to gain the weight he needs to be released back,” according to the zoo.
The manatee is receiving specialized care at the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center, one of only two places that will take in orphaned manatee calves in the state, prior to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium adding a manatee rehabilitation center to its efforts.