Powell, OH – Manatees at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium are on the move again as part of the Zoo’s participation in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Program. Fifteen-year-old Holly and two-year-olds Fraulein and Bartlett were transported back to Florida on November 2, 2010 and Bernice, who is less than a year old, was brought to central Ohio on the return flight the next day.
Holly has been at the Columbus Zoo since October 2005. She spent most of her life at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park after being rescued as an orphan on December 27, 1995. Holly was part of a critical study of the papilloma virus which was found to affect manatees both in the wild and in human care. Holly will be cared for at SeaWorld Orlando until she is released in Florida waters in early 2011.
Bartlett and Fraulein (as well as two other young manatees that remain at the Zoo) came to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on April 6, 2010 for rehabilitation from cold-stress syndrome that occurred due to prolonged, record low temperatures in Florida last winter. Believed to be just one-and-a-half years of age when they were rescued, female Fraulein weighed 395 pounds and male Bartlett was 510 pounds. After their care at the Columbus Zoo they have grown to 600 pounds and 700 pounds respectively. Fraulein was transported to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Bartlett to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo where they will stay until they are also released early next year.
Holly, Bartlett and Fraulein will be fitted with transmitters in order to continue monitoring their health and well-being after their release. Their movements will be tracked as part of the Columbus Zoo’s participation in the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership and can be followed online at www.wildtracks.org.
Bernice was an orphan heading precariously out to sea when she was rescued on January 5, 2010 at Sebastian Inlet on the east coast of Florida. Probably less than a year old and suffering from cold stress she was just 280 pounds and about five-and-a-half feet in length. Due to the quality care she has received at SeaWorld Orlando she is now about 400 pounds and measures a foot longer.
After spending a few days in an observation pool, Bernice will join two-year-olds Hamilton and Tippecanoe, both males, and 15-year-old female Stubby in Manatee Coast.
Moving manatees is always a well-orchestrated event and these transports involved even more players. In addition to the four manatees coming and going to and from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden returned two manatees to Florida and received three new manatees; two from Miami Seaquarium and one from Homosassa Springs. Moving these nine manatees involved six animal care facilities, cargo planes leaving to and from Rickenbacker International Airport, specialized containers and equipment, and a team of animal care and logistical experts.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium supports field conservation projects for three of four living species of manatees through its Conservation Fund. Providing grants to researchers on three continents (North America, South America and Africa), the Zoo contributes to rescue and rehabilitation in Florida, environmental education focused on the Amazonian manatee in Colombia, and critical population surveys for the least known species – the West African manatee.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was the first program partner outside of the state of Florida and one of only two outside of Florida to care for manatees. More information about the program is available from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (www.myfwc.com/manatee).
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year. General admission is $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free. The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.