Due in part to cold stress, 5 manatees in rehab at Jacksonville Zoo

Cold weather is not a good thing for manatees living in Florida waters, and that affects when manatees in rehab at the Jacksonville Zoo can be released.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Because of the cold temperatures during winter, some manatees have become cold-stressed. It’s resulted in a record number of mammals in rehab at the Jacksonville Zoo.

“It’s the first time … we’re rehabbing five animals,” said Craig Miller, with the Jacksonville Zoo.

Two of the manatees are orphans that were brought in at a young age and will be released in a week. The other three became cold-stressed.

One manatee was rescued from the Ortega River.

‘They normally need at least a couple of months (to recover),” Miller said. “They can be, you know, even longer -- four to five, six months depending on, even potentially longer, depending on how severe that cold stress is.”

As a result of the cold winter, the Jacksonville Zoo isn’t the only spot with a record number of rehab patients.

“Everybody is near capacity. And there are still animals out there that need that likely need rescue,” Miller said. “We’re just trying to make sure we’re available to help out if if needed.”

The zoo will release the manatees when they’re healthy enough to survive on their own.

If you come across a manatee in distress, you should call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922.