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Rescued Manatees Move to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 26, 2021 11:00 pm

Rescued Manatees at the Columbus Zoo

Manatee and Acorn the manatees upon their arrival at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Photo Credit: Grahm S. Jones/ Columbus Zoo and Aquairum

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have welcomed two young manatees where they will continue their rehabilitation. With manatees facing an unprecedented year for rescues this move will alleviate capacity concerns at ZooTampa which is one of four critical care centers for the species in Florida.

These are the 34th and 35th manatees cared for by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium since they joined the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 1999.

Both the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and ZooTampa are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquarium and are active members of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state and federal entities dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, release, and monitoring of manatees.

Rescued Manatees at the Columbus Zoo

Acorn the rescued manatee during his time at Zoo Tampa

Photo Credit: Zoo Tampa

The two young manatees which have moved to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium are known as Einstein and Acorn. They were both rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission in fall of 2020. As orphaned calves they cannot be released until they reach 600lbs (272kg).

Einstein was brought to ZooTampa in August 2020 from the Steinhatchee River with his injured mom. Unfortunately his mother did not survive. As at April 8 he weighed 470lbs (213kg).

Acorn was brought to ZooTampa in November 2020 from Crystal River. He was found off a dock emaciated. He has been stable for the last few months and is gaining weight. As at April 8th 2021 he weighed 430lbs (195kg).

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“This iconic Florida species has been at the heart of our commitment to conservation for more than 30 years. Both manatees are doing extremely well in their rehabilitation and we are confident that with continued care at the Columbus Zoo, Einstein and Acorn will be fully rehabilitated by winter and will be able to return to Florida waters,” stated Dr. Cynthia Stringfield, senior vice president of animal health, education and conservation at ZooTampa. “A stellar team of animal care professionals, curators and veterinarians from both organizations oversaw the transfer, which went off smoothly.”  

At the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Acorn and Einstein will be cared for in the Zoo’s manatee coast habitat. They will join Stubby a manatee who is considered conditionally non-releasable animal. Every five years her condition is assessed to see if she could return to the wild but it is now considered unlikely this will occur.

Instead she acts as a surrogate mother for manatees undergoing rehabilitation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. She will help guide Acorn and Einstein. They will also join Squirrel and Scampi two other young manatees which are recovering at the zoo’s Manatee Coast habitat.

Rescued Manatees at the Columbus Zoo
Rescued Manatees at the Columbus Zoo

Left: Einstein and his mother during their rescue. Right: Acorn during his rescue

Photo Credit: Left: Brandon Bassett/ FWC. Right: Andy Garrett/FWC

“The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is very proud to collaborate with our colleagues at ZooTampa and other partners through the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership program to help make a difference for Acorn, Einstein and other manatees who are facing serious challenges in their native ranges,” said Becky Ellsworth, curator of the Columbus Zoo’s Shores and Aquarium region.

“As the manatees continue their rehabilitation journeys and receive expert care at our facilities, guests also have the opportunity to learn more about the important actions we can all take to help protect manatees and their ocean homes. Finding conservation solutions is a collective effort, and our work continues to be driven by the inspiration we find in connecting people to wildlife so that they join us in being a part of protecting these species’ future

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium were the first facility outside of Florida to care for manatees and is one of only two now.

Rescued Manatees at the Columbus Zoo

The eastern massasauga rattlesnake hatchlings at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Photo Credit: Grahm S. Jones/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Learn more about the Columbus Zoo on their website – Columbus Zoo

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