For Immediate Release
August 19, 1999

Contact: Tom MacKenzie
404/679-7291


MANATEES TO BE RELEASED ON AUGUST 19

Two rehabilitated manatees, "Steinhatchee" and "B.C." will be released Thursday, August 19, at 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. from the Mason Creek boat ramp in Homosassa. When "Steinhatchee" was rescued on January 20, 1999 from the shallows of the lower Steinhatchee River, he weighed only 805 pounds and was suffering from exposure to the cold. Seven months later, thanks to the rescuers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and the rehabilitators from the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, "Steinhatchee" now weighs 920 pounds and is healthy. "B.C.", a female manatee, was found trailing a crab trap on May 9, in Battle Creek. She was rescued from the trap line, her cuts have been treated, and she too is ready to be released.

"These animals are ready to go," says Jennifer Hackshaw, curator at the Lowry Park Zoo.

During his 7-month stay at the zoo, "Steinhatchee" was kept in warm water, rehydrated, fed, and given antibiotics. "B.C.'s" left flipper was limp from lack of circulation. The crab trap line had been wrapped around it several times, and the skin was dead in several areas. Her cuts were treated, and she was given antibiotics. Cooperators with the manatee rescue and rehabilitation program rescue an average of 30 to 40 manatees each year. About 15 to 25 sick, injured, and orphaned manatees are sent to critical-care facilities such as the Lowry Park Zoo.

The manatee rescue and rehabilitation program, coordinated by the Fish and Wildlife Service, is a cooperative effort that includes Federal, state, and local government agencies and many private cooperators, such as the Lowry Park Zoo. People reporting sick, injured, and orphaned manatees should first call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's hotline (formerly Florida Marine Patrol Hotline) at 1 (800) 342-5367. The Commission's marine mammal rescue program then verifies the report; if a rescue is needed, local cooperators are organized and the manatee is rescued. Depending on the condition of the animal, it may be taken to one of three critical-care facilities for treatment - - Lowry Park Zoo, Miami Seaquarium, or Sea World of Florida in Orlando.

The Lowry Park Zoo, a critical-care facility, has been treating manatees since 1991. A state of the-art manatee hospital, staff, and treatment tanks combine to make this facility one of the country's best. The hospital treats and releases several manatees each year. Many of these animals are on display during rehabilitation. As such, the hospital doubles as a manatee education program and successfully educates tens of thousands of people each year about manatees and the problems that they face.

The manatee rescue and rehabilitation program takes care of individual manatees that, when returned to the wild, contribute significantly to the status of our manatee population. The lessons taught by the presence of these manatees in captivity help to create an awareness that goes a long way toward protecting our manatees' future.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.

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Release #:R99-071


1999 News Releases
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