If you are fortunate enough to enjoy Florida’s warm coastal waters and springs, you might have the opportunity to see a unique species of marine mammal, the Florida manatee, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. Manatees are often referred to as “sea cows” because they are herbivores that graze on freshwater and saltwater plants. There are natural threats to manatees in the wild, like cold stress, red tide toxicity, and human-related injuries like boating accidents, getting trapped in flood control structures and eating fish hooks and litter.
This is where the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center at ZooTampa comes in. The first non-profit critical center for injured and sick manatees has three 16,000 gallon medical treatment pools, two underwater treatment pools, and a public observation area so you can see the rehabilitation process in action.
The story of the manatees at ZooTampa spans 25 years and over 430 treated manatees, since the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center opened in 1991. The manatee critical care center was the first ever built to care for ill or injured manatees. A dedicated team of animal care and veterinary staff tend to the manatees 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
To enhance animal welfare and expand ZooTampa‘s mission to save Florida wildlife, they recently completed extensive upgrades to the water filtration system. This new, upgraded life support system allows them to provide advanced, specialized care for the welfare of manatees and treat even the most severe cases.
Not only can you see the manatees being cared for, but by adopting a manatee patient, YOU are helping with the care and rehabilitation of one of Florida’s most beloved species and watching the help you have given, life-saving care, in real time. Pretty cool, right?
Buy your tickets for ZooTampa HERE.