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Rehabilitated Manatees Return To Florida, New Manatees Arrive At Zoo

Media Alert: Thursday, November 03, 2011


November 3, 2011

Patty Peters                                                   
Vice President Community Relations

NOTE TO MEDIA: The manatees are adjusting to their new environment and we are not providing media access at this time. Photos and video are available from the Columbus Zoo.


Powell, OH - Three young rehabilitated manatees have been taken back to Florida and three new manatees in need of extra tender loving care are now being cared for by the animal experts at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The moves, which occurred on Nov. 2, are part of the Zoo’s participation in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Program.
Hamilton, Tippecanoe and Bernice return to Florida
Hamilton, Tippecanoe and Bernice were flown to Florida yesterday and will remain in the care of manatee experts at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (Hamilton) and Miami Seaquarium (Tippecanoe and Bernice) until their release near the areas where they were found.
The release of Hamilton and Bernice will occur in late winter and both animals will be outfitted with satellite tracking devices to continue to monitor their health and well-being. Their movements will be tracked as part of the Columbus Zoo’s participation in the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership. Because Tippecanoe has more experience in the wild, including a winter on his own, he will be released early this winter.
Three-year-old Hamilton was rescued on Feb. 21, 2010 in Citrus County’s Crystal River after being hit by a boat propeller. Apparently orphaned, he was observed trying to nurse from other manatees. Hamilton arrived at the Columbus Zoo on Apr. 6, 2010 weighing about 240 pounds and is now more than 650 pounds. 
Tippecanoe was estimated to be one-and-a-half years of age when he was rescued on Mar. 16, 2010 in Tippecanoe Bay near Port Charlotte. Like many manatees who suffered from cold stress due to prolonged, record low temperatures in Florida that winter, Tippecanoe was exhibiting lethargic behavior and had lesions that caused him to shed much of his epidermis. Tippecanoe arrived at the Columbus Zoo on Apr. 6, 2010 weighing about 380 pounds and is now more than 700 pounds.
Bernice was an orphan heading precariously out to sea when she was rescued on Jan. 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. Bernice came to the Columbus Zoo on Nov. 3, 2010 and has gained almost 500 pounds since her arrival.
Pixie, Wheezy and Woodstock arrive in Central Ohio
Stubby, a 16-year-old female who remains at the Zoo’s Manatee Coast, will not be alone in the 300,000-gallon pool for long.  Three new manatees came from Florida on the return flight and are currently in the observation pool. It is expected they will be introduced to Stubby and Zoo visitors within the next few days.
The new manatees are Pixie, Wheezy and Woodstock and they are coming from SeaWorld Orlando and Miami Seaquarium. 
Pixie is the smallest manatee ever to come to the Columbus Zoo for rehabilitation. She was rescued on Jul. 24, 2010 after being spotted alone in shallow water near Daytona. She was estimated to be just a few weeks old and only 42 pounds when she was taken to SeaWorld Orlando. Pixie is now 125 pounds and is still being bottle-fed.
Wheezy was suffering from the effects of cold stress when she was rescued on Jan. 15, 2011. She was one of three manatees rescued from the Desoto Canal in Satellite Beach last winter. Wheezy is about 505 pounds.
Woodstock and her mother were victims of cold stress when they were rescued near the southwest coast of Florida on Jan. 7, 2011. Woodstock was orphaned when her mother did not survive. She now weighs 420 pounds.
Manatee conservation
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 facilities outside of Florida to care for manatees. More information about the program is available from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (
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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 9,000 animals representing 675 species and provides more than $1 million annually to support over 70 conservation projects worldwide.  A recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium hosts more than two million visitors annually and was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide.  A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating. For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit