Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: April 21, 2022 8:48 pm
Staff from Jacksonville Zoo move Fezzik the rescued manatee
Photo Credit: Zoo Name
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens have announced the successful release of a male manatee in Welaka, Florida this week. Named Fezzik following his rescue on February 17th 2022 he has spent two months in rehabilitation.
So far during 2022 the Jacksonville Zoo have rehabilitated five manatees at their Manatee Critical Care Center.
Fezzik was spotted in the Indian River Lagoon looking thin and was floating and swimming sideways. This is increasingly common among Florida manatees which are undergoing an Unusual Mortality Event (UME), designated under the Marine Mammal
“He was assessed upon arrival, including bloodwork, and he received supportive care, including oral fluids,” said Craig Miller, Curator of Mammals. “Once stable, his rehabilitation was mainly about providing him with the optimal water temperature and plenty of romaine lettuce.”
The UME has led to an ongoing investigation and Federal response to the record number of manatee deaths along the Atlantic coast of Florida. A reduction in available seagrass is being investigated as the most likely cause of this.
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Upon his release Fezzik was fitted with a satellite tracking device to monitor him and help to ensure that he adjusts well to his new location. The location was chosen by the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP).
“He was rescued in the Indian River, in the UME area where there isn’t enough seagrass to feed on,” said Craig Miller. “The MRP biologists looked at two main options, to take Fezzik further south in the Intracoastal Waterway, near North Palm Beach, or up the St. Johns River. They decided to release him in Welaka.”
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Manatee Critical Care Center operates as an acute care and rehabilitation facility where life-saving treatment can be provided to manatees.
Since the zoo opened the center in August of 2017 it has rehabilitated 30 manatees. The center is the zoo's largest regional conservation initiative.