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  • Writer's pictureGotta Go Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando Adding Space For More Sick & Injured Manatees

SeaWorld Orlando announced on Tuesday, March 22, that it will expand its manatee critical care facility in Orlando to add more capacity in the state of Florida to care for manatees in need.



The buildout will include a new three pool complex that adds 200,000 gallons of water for manatee response, and a new lift floor to an existing pool, that doubles the size of the critical care space at SeaWorld's rescue center in Orlando.



Currently SeaWorld has 31 manatees in their care, once thee expansion is complete, SeaWorld will have the ability to care for 60 manatees in need, the largest capacity in the state of Florida and in the U.S. The expansion is necessary to care for the record number of manatees in crisis due to the Unusual Mortality Event (UME).



"The crisis facing manatees is not letting up and we know that SeaWorld's existing rescue center infrastructure gives us the foundation upon which to quickly build and expand to care for animals in need," said Jon Peterson, VP of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando, Head of SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team, and Chairman of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership. "That larger space, together with our sizable, highly specialized and experienced manatee care team means that we are able to mobilize quickly and effectively to help save the lives of these animals and in doing so help save the species from extinction."


The new tri-pool complex at SeaWorld's Orlando rescue center will consist of a large new round pool flanked by two slightly smaller oval pools. All three pools will be interconnected, and shade coverings will be built over the new pools to aid in the comfort of rehabilitating manatees.


In addition to the new pools, a new critical care lift floor will be installed for an existing pool, essential to raise the animals safely to the water line to administer medical care and treatment and perform health checks.


The existing decking structure around the current pools will also be modified to provide better access to the manatees by the animal care team. The enhancements will double the size of the manatee critical care space at SeaWorld's rescue center in Orlando.



"Working closely with organizations like SeaWorld, the FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and all the other partners in conservation of manatees is vital to mitigating the impact of the emergency and ensuring the recovery of the species" said Leopoldo Miranda-Castro, Regional Director, South-Atlantic and Mississippi Basin Regions, US Fish & Wildlife Service. "SeaWorld is always on, 24/7, coming to the aid of animals in need and we know that this commitment along with their experience and exceptional animal care means those needing treatment have a fighting chance at survival in the wild."


The expansion plans were announced today at a press conference on the important public / private partnership underway to save the manatee. It included speakers from various state and federal wildlife agencies and FloridaCongressman Darren Soto who co-introduced bipartisan legislation to grant manatees the highest level of federal protection available.

"Our State's official marine animal – the manatee – has a special place in every Floridian's heart. I'd like to thank SeaWorld and other MRP partners for all they do to help rescue animals in need and provide the best care and rehabilitation possible to successfully get them back into coastal waters," said Florida Congressman Darren Soto. "I hear consistently from my constituents that helping manatees is an issue of high importance to them. Therefore, the Manatee Protection Act is yet another important way we can help by granting the manatee the highest level of federal protection possible."


The new pools are being fabricated now and will be operational in July 2022. Other aspects of the buildout will be ongoing. All projects are expected to be completed by early 2023.




SeaWorld Commitment to Saving the Manatee

Since 1976, SeaWorld has helped ill, orphaned, and injured manatees with the Florida team alone having rescued and rehabilitated more than 800 manatees to date. SeaWorld's five-acre rescue center in Orlando is one of the largest spaces available and serves as one of only five critical care facilities in the U.S. for the treatment and care of injured, sick, and orphaned animals, including manatees.


Last month it added five 40-foot temporary emergency pools to make space for more critical care animals. The temporary pools will be replaced by a new permanent three pool complex, doubling the capacity at SeaWorld's Orlandorescue center to care for up to 60 manatees at a time, giving it the largest capacity in the state of Florida and in the U.S.



SeaWorld's rescue facilities have a wide range of critical care amenities including lifting floors, top-of-the-line therapeutic and diagnostic equipment, and expert veterinary and animal care staff. SeaWorld also is credited for life-saving innovations in animal care and treatment for manatees that includes developing a special baby manatee formula adaptable to meet each individual nursing calf's requirements and creating a hand-feeding baby bottle that imitates a mother manatee. SeaWorld pioneered manatee treatment techniques including ultrasound, anesthesia, X-rays, surgery, and thermography; SeaWorld veterinarians were also the first to put a cast on an injured manatee.





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