TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — An orphaned manatee in Puerto Rico has a new lease on life, thanks to the animal experts at ZooTampa.

Curator of Florida Manatees, Molly Lippincott, spent a day assisting staff at the Caribbean Manatee Conservation Center to help a calf, Nanichi, learn to take a bottle.

“ZooTampa is humbled to be a part of this effort to help preserve the manatee population,” said Lippincott. “We value the dedicated and passionate work that our colleagues at the Caribbean Manatee Conservation Center at Inter American University of Puerto Rico undertake daily. They are a small facility, but with a mighty team that does amazing work with the conservation of manatees, birds and sea turtles not only in Puerto Rico but throughout the Caribbean.”

Now, the 2-month-old calf is on her way to recovery and preparing to be released back into the wild once she grows up. She was about a week old when she found by locals, washed up on the beach. The manatee team in Puerto Rico named her Nanichi, a word derived from the Taino, the original language of the Greater Antilles, meaning “my love” or “my heart”.

“Our center is grateful to ZooTampa and its manatee care personnel for sharing with us the challenges and solutions in nursing manatee calves back to health,” said Antonio Mignucci, director of the center and marine sciences professor at the Inter American University’s Bayamón Campus, where the facility is located.

The center currently has five manatee patients, including one long-term care Florida manatee which originally came from ZooTampa after years of rehabilitation. 

“Caring for Guacara the Florida manatee since 2010 aligned us with ZooTampa, and now with the help they offered with Nanichi, the Zoo and the center solidified what the partnership is about, the caring for and saving threatened species like the manatee,” Mignucci said.