Happy Manatee Appreciation Day

Posted March 27, 2024 by Tara Lay

We celebrate manatees every day here at the Cincinnati Zoo, but today is an extra special day: Manatee Appreciation Day!

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is one of a few U.S. Zoos outside of Florida that participate in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP). The goal of the program is to rescue and treat ill, injured and orphaned manatees and then release them back into the wild.

We are a second stage rehabilitation center for rescued manatees who need to get big and strong enough to be released back to their native Florida waters! Since 1999, the Cincinnati Zoo has cared for 29 manatees with 24 of them being released back to the wild! Most recently, in February of 2024, orphaned manatees Calliope, Piccolina & Soleil were released at Crystal River, Florida.

Currently, Nolia, Amethyst and Waffles are rehabilitating at the Cincinnati Zoo until they can head back down to Florida!


Amethyst is our cautious little girl, who loves to eat from the bottom and really enjoys endive!

Current weight 399.25 lbs


Waffles is a bit of our trouble maker and likes to play “block” when it comes to snacks, she really likes browse!

Current weight 433.8 lbs


Nolia is completely unbothered and chill. Really enjoys sweet potato feeders!

Current weight 358.8 lbs

Update on Calliope, Soleil & Piccolina since they were released in February 2024 from their keeper:

  • Calliope who was usually a riot for us, was cool, calm and collected. She went right out and settled into the spring, attempting to make friends with a mom and calf.
  • Soleil was next, she was our biggest girl! She went right out into Three Sisters Springs and crossed the buoy line immediately but was observed coming in and out of the area. She was seen hanging out with Ripkin, a male who was released from Bishop.
  • Piccolina was the only one to go on Wednesday, but the other girls waited for her, and they reunited all together, and with Ripkin! They went to a further back spring, and were observed swimming around and exploring together, and sharing a stick to nibble on.
manatee tracking
Keepers Remy and Tara traveled with the manatees to Florida

Keep Up With Released Manatees

24 manatees have been rehabilitated at the Cincinnati Zoo and released back to the wild!

Track the Manatees