Rescued Manatee Gives Birth at Lowry Park Zoo

A days-old manatee calf takes a breath (c) Lowry Park Zoo

Lowry Park Zoo welcomed a brand new manatee calf into the world on Monday. The mother was rescued from the St. Johns River area on May 13th with a pneumothorax and other complications. The cow gave birth before zookeepers arrived at 7am and despite the trauma to Mom the male calf seems to be in good health and weighs in at a hefty – and full term size – of 76 lbs.

Lowry does, as WaterNotes readers know, have another calf in its care. Kee was brought in as an orphaned – and undersized – calf several weeks ago. As this newest media release mentions she has had the expected ups and downs in her rehabilitation but is currently listed as doing well. Hopefully Lowry will post some adorable photos of the newest baby to ZooBorns in the near future.

Manatees in Florida facilities are usually prevented from breeding in enclosed environments and rescue operations typically keep one gender only in long term display and rehabilitation pools. There is, in fact, a moratorium on breeding manatees in zoos and aquariums in place. Calves must learn to avoid potentially toxic wild plants in their natural environment and learn migration routes for wintering warm-water springs and flows from their mothers in the wild. Within zoos and aquariums such ‘lessons’ are impossible although rehabilitation plans attempt to address these shortcomings when orphans, or live births from rescued cows, join a facility.

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