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Jacksonville Zoo helps rescue injured manatee

It’s the second boat strike case the zoo has seen this week

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Wednesday helped rescue a manatee that was recently injured by a boat strike.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Wednesday helped rescue a manatee that was recently injured by a boat strike.

It’s the second boat strike case the zoo has seen this week.

“She was pretty evasive, and they had set the net multiple times, and it’s not easy work,” said Craig Miller, the zoo’s curator of mammals, said of the rescue.

The manatee is now undergoing tests and treatments at the zoo’s Critical Care Center after the recent boat strike on her tail.

“You can tell she was obviously very thin and very buoyant, but it could be related to something with a rib lung injury,” said Miller.

The manatee was spotted Friday in Julington Creek. Then she ended up in the Ortega River, where the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission put a team together to help with the rescue.

“It’s definitely a group effort, and so now, it’s all about treatment rehab,” said Miller. “Fingers are crossed. It’s hard to tell. We’re not sure what exactly is going on with her. She’s clearly been struck by multiple boats during her lifetime.”

Although she’s thin, Miller said, she has an appetite -- which is a good sign.

She’s the second boat strike case the zoo has seen this week. The other manatee is said to be in even worse shape and is buoyant on his right side.

“I think these guys are going to be with us for months,” Miller said.

This comes as Florida is seeing a record number of manatee deaths. The FWC reports 905 death in total this year -- 70 of which are from watercraft. According to the FWC, Florida’s record of 905 manatee deaths is connected to starvation on the Atlantic coast this past winter and spring. This was during the colder months when manatees migrated through the Indian River Lagoon where the majority of seagrass has died off.

“I firmly believe we can share the amazing waterways we have a great environment out here for boaters,” said Miller.

Miller reminds boaters to follow the speed zones, wear polarized sunglasses, keep an eye out for manatees swimming (they create a circular boil or footprint in the water), and keep the waterways clean.

Saving the manatees is possible through the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, which includes the Jacksonville Zoo, FWC, U.S. Geological Survey and other zoos.

Miller also said the public plays a role. Anyone who notices an injured manatee is asked to report it by visiting the FWC website or calling the FWC hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). Cellphone users can also call *FWC or #FWC, or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.


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