Manatee returns to Salt Springs after rehabilitation at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

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Manatee Returns to Salt Springs after Rehabilitation at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After three months in rehabilitation, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens released a male manatee Wednesday in the Salt Springs Recreation Area.

The manatee is the 22nd release from the Manatee Critical Care Center.

This is the second rehabilitation for the manatee. He was named Jesup for his original rescue location in 2020, Lake Jesup in central Florida. He was brought to SeaWorld to treat emaciation and cold stress syndrome, then released two months later to the same area, according to the Jacksonville Zoo.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute (CMARI) was monitoring manatees in Salt Springs when Jesup was noticed being very thin and showing mild cold stress symptoms again. He was rescued and brought to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Feb. 22.

“Jesup came to us very thin and dehydrated with low blood glucose. He started eating faster than any animal we have rehabilitated, which was a positive sign. His condition started improving quickly, however, he had a decent amount of weight to gain so that has been our primary focus the last three months,” said Craig Miller, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Curator of Mammals.

Staff estimates that he is around 3 years old. Upon rescue, he weighed 513 pounds and was released Wednesday at 793 pounds. CMARI and staff at Salt Springs Recreation Area assisted the Zoo with the release.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ Manatee Critical Care Center is an acute care, rehabilitation facility that provides life-saving medical treatment to rescued manatees. The manatee rescue and rehabilitation program is the Zoo’s largest regional conservation initiative, caring for 32 manatees since the Center opened in 2017.

Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at

Florida manatees are a federally-protected threatened species, at significant risk from both natural and human threats. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, disease, boat strikes, crushing by floodgates and locks, line entanglement, and ingestion of pollution and debris are just some of the hazards facing one of Florida’s most iconic animals.

To report an injured marine mammal, call the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC) or dial *FWC on a cellular device.

About the Author:

Carianne Luter is an Award-Winning Digital Media and Engagement Manager for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She won "Best Social Media Engagement Strategy" during the Local Media Association 2022 Digital Innovation Awards. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.