Abigail is the 14th manatee to be rehabilitated at the Cincinnati Zoo
CINCINNATI (October 6, 2015) – Florida manatee “Abigail,” who came to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in 2013 to be rehabilitated after suffering cold stress in the Indian River system, has returned to her home state in good health. On Friday, October 2, Zoo veterinarian Dr. Mark Campbell and manatee keeper Megan O’Keefe accompanied the manatee on her overnight journey on a DHL flight to Miami Seaquarium, where she will stay until she is ready to be released into her native habitat.
The Cincinnati Zoo is one of two U.S. Zoos outside of Florida that participate in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program. The goal of this program is to rescue and treat sick or injured manatees and then release them back into the wild.
“Upon her arrival in Cincinnati, Abigail weighed 295 lbs. She is now 630 lbs and ready to go back to her home turf,” said Cincinnati Zoo manatee keeper James Vogel. “The departure of Abigail brings both sadness and joy to our hearts. We will miss her but are happy to see her return home, fully recovered. She plays a vital role in the recovery of this endangered species.”
Three-and-a-half-year-old Abigail was rescued from the Indian River system, near Merritt Island in Brevard County, Florida, in March 2013 and received critical care at SeaWorld Orlando before coming to the Cincinnati Zoo. She will be released back into the waters in Brevard County once she becomes acclimated (at Miami Seaquarium) to the natural diet and brackish water found in that region. Her movements will be tracked via satellite for one year.
Abigail is the 14th manatee to be rehabilitated at the Cincinnati Zoo and will be the 13th to be released back into Florida waters. Her companion at Manatee Springs, 25-year-old Betsy, will remain in Cincinnati long term and will be joined by another manatee in need of rehabilitation in the next few months.
The Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at www.ManateeRescue.org. The endangered Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.