CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – The Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced it is adding a manatee rehabilitation center to its efforts in July, but Tuesday, it was confirmed the former home of dolphins Winter, Hope (of “Dolphin Tale” movie fame) and PJ will be a portion of it.
Plans to turn the former “Winter Zone” into a habitat to rehabilitate manatees for release were announced at a press conference.
“Right here, where Winter’s legacy began, a new legacy will emerge as Clearwater Marine Aquarium furthers our commitment to saving Florida’s iconic species, the manatee,” said CEO Frank Dame.
Officials estimate renovations of the habitat could cost $10 million.
Renderings of the new habitat were also released on Tuesday. Guests will be able to view the manatees recovering in Winter’s former home.
The aquarium said in July a manatee rehabilitation facility this winter will open at its Fred Howard Park location, which currently treats cetaceans, such as dolphins.
This facility will reportedly be ready to accept the influx of manatees affected by the ongoing Unusual Mortality Event on the east coast of Florida due to seagrass die-off, as well as those injured by boat strikes and cold stress syndrome.
CMA estimates they will be adding around 12 more “beds” for manatees in need as it becomes the fifth manatee rehabilitation center in Florida, the second in the Tampa Bay area in addition to ZooTampa.
The new dolphin habitat for Winter and friends, the Ruth and J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex, opened at the aquarium in July of last year.