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The Cincinnati Zoo is returning three rehabilitated manatees to Florida next month culture | cincinnati

click to enlarge SwimShady, Alby and Manhattan return to Florida.  - Photo: @DJJAM Photo via the Cincinnati Zoo

Photo: @DJJAM Photo via the Cincinnati Zoo

SwimShady, Alby and Manhattan return to Florida.

They have just a few weeks to say goodbye to the Cincinnati Zoo’s three orphaned manatees before they return to Florida.

SwimShady, Alby and Manhattan have been rehabilitating at the Manatee Springs Zoo for 18 months and will return to their native habitats in early October, according to a zoo release.

Her time in Queen City was part of the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP). The zoo has been involved in this operation for two decades, and including the three that are about to depart, 23 manatees have been cared for by the Cincinnati Zoo since partnering with MRP.

“Our primary goal as a second tier foster care facility is to provide plentiful food and maintain the manatees at a healthy weight,” Cincinnati Zoo curator Kim Scott said in a press release.

Scott says the three big sea pups gained a total of 1,000 pounds, which makes sense given that they’ve eaten around 166,158 pounds of food during their stay in Cincinnati.

SwimShady, Alby and Manhattan are all men rescued from Florida. SwimShady weighed 198 pounds when rescued and is released at 624 pounds, Alby started his journey at 51 pounds and now weighs 746 pounds, and Manhattan began his journey at 62 pounds and now weighs 609 pounds.

Zoo officials say that since the MRP began, 19 manatees have been successfully released in Florida, and in 2017 Florida’s manatee population was downgraded from endangered to threatened.

“The goal of the MRP is to rescue, rehabilitate and release manatees, and we are honored to play a part in this important conservation work,” said Scott. “In addition to rehabilitating manatees, we can educate and inspire visitors when they see these amazing creatures!”

The Atlantic Seaboard manatee population has recently experienced an “alarmingly high mortality rate” with 1,100 deaths last year and 600 so far this year, according to the zoo. These deaths are suspected to be due to declining food sources as well as “man-made threats” such as boat strikes.

Visit manateerescue.org to donate and learn more about manateerescue rehabilitation.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is located at 3400 Vine St. in Avondale. Tickets and more information at cincinnatizoo.org.

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