Welcome, November, and blissful Manatee Consciousness Month! Manatees, of which there are three species, are also called sea cows. They’re massive, herbivorous marine mammals native to the nice and cozy waters of the Caribbean, particularly Florida, in addition to to the Amazon basin and the coast of West Africa. The nickname “sea cow” refers back to the manatees’ behavior of grazing on seagrass and different marine crops for hours on finish. On the Cincinnati Zoo, Romaine lettuce and different produce is substituted for sea grass and fed in such massive portions that our manatees are the Zoo’s most costly animals to feed. A whole lot of kilos of recent, restaurant-quality leafy greens reminiscent of lettuce, kale, bok choy, and napa cabbage are fed to the manatees daily!
Manatees are a part of the Order Sirenia, which additionally consists of dugongs. Manatees and dugongs could be instructed aside by their native ranges and their tails; dugongs are solely discovered within the Indo-West Pacific, and their tails are fluked, like these of dolphins and whales, whereas manatees have rounded, paddle-like tails. Sailors of antiquity are thought to have mistaken Sirenia for mermaids! Aside from dugongs, manatees’ closest residing kin are elephants and hyraxes.
The Zoo’s present resident Florida manatees, Alby, Manhattan, and SwimShady, are unrelated males that have been rescued as orphans in numerous components of Florida. They have been dropped at the Zoo on March 24th, 2021, as a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership. As soon as they’re sufficiently old, they are going to be launched again into Florida waters! Alby and Manhattan are estimated to be 2 years outdated whereas SwimShady is about 1½. After they attain full maturity, they may weigh over 1,800 kilos! Females develop even bigger, and the report weight is 3,550 lbs.
In 2018, manatees have been faraway from the IUCN Endangered Species Listing and labeled as Threatened. Whereas that is excellent news, manatees may rejoin that listing with out ongoing, accountable administration efforts. Manatees face a number of threats of their pure habitats, most of that are human-related. Watercraft strikes, discarded fishing line, and crimson tide are all examples of a few of these main threats. Happily, because of this people can change their actions to be extra manatee-friendly! As an example, in canals and rivers the place manatees swim and feed, no-wake zones assist to stop watercraft strikes, whereas rules that restrict industrial and agricultural runoff assist to stop crimson tides.
Chilly stress and illness, alternatively, are pure threats to manatees. Waters under 68 levels Fahrenheit are too chilly for manatees and might make them sick. Alby, Manhattan, and SwimShady all got here to the Zoo with signs of chilly stress, however they shortly recovered in Manatee Springs. Happily for wild manatees, many waterways in Florida are warmed by pure springs or energy crops, permitting tons of of manatees a protected haven to remain in in the course of the winter months.
There may be hope for the mild giants; the Cincinnati Zoo is only one group that’s devoted to serving to defend manatees. It’s certainly one of solely two zoos outdoors of Florida capable of home and take care of these animals. Via its participation within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership, the Zoo has rehabilitated 20 manatees, with Alby, Manhattan, and SwimShady being the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. We wish to improve consciousness of those unbelievable creatures in order that others are impressed to like, respect, and respect them too. Will you assist unfold consciousness of those wonderful animals? To be taught extra about manatees, how the Zoo helps them, and how one can assist too, go to our web site or float on right down to Manatee Springs in particular person!