HomeNewsManatees Airlifted To Ohio In Attempt To Help Preserve Species

Manatees Airlifted To Ohio In Attempt To Help Preserve Species

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Awakening/Getty Images)

Four Florida manatees were airlifted to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio as part of efforts to help preserve the species.

According to Fox Weather, the manatees headed to the Buckeye State due to the strain of resources in Florida as agencies continue to deal with the species’ record die-off. DHL Express notably transported the four apparently injured manatees on a plane that had custom-built containers. The Columbus Zoo reportedly has one of the only five critical care facilities for giant mammals in the U.S. 

Speaking about the manatees’ transportation, Jon Peterson, Vice President of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando, also shares in a statement that transporting the animals is a “precise” process. 

“When you add an air component on top of the land transfer, the complexity multiplies exponentially,” Peterson further explained. “SeaWorld has decades of experience safely moving animals. And the beauty of our partnership with DHL Express is that we both understand what’s necessary. Together we won’t proceed with a transfer unless we both are 100% satisfied that every detail is covered. And conditions are perfect.”

SeaWorld Orlando also reports that the containers for the manatees are secure on palettes to the floor for stability. The containers also have custom high-density foam that made each of the containers light but insulated. 

Here Are the Four Florida Manatees Currently at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium 

Here are the names of the four Florida manatees who are currently receiving care in Ohio. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) saved each manatee when they were neonatal calves. Three of the animals are orphans. All four have been in the care of rehabilitation experts at SeaWorld Orlando since their rescue for between 12-18 months.

  • Lizzo: An orphaned female calf rescued in Palm Coast, Fla. on July 28, 2020.  
  • Cardi-Tee: An orphaned female manatee found in St. Augustine, Fla. on September 4, 2020.
  • MaryKate: A female manatee calf rescued on January 14, 2021 in Blue Springs, Fla. 
  • Ashley: An orphaned female manatee rescued on January 24, 2021 in Cocoa, Fla.

Meanwhile, Becky Ellsworth, the Curator of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, says that the Zoo is working with partners to help the manatees. “It is truly devastating to see what is happening to manatees. The generosity of DHL Express; the commitment and collaboration of our Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership partners like SeaWorld; and the support of our community offers wonderful reminders of the positive impact our efforts can make for manatees.”

The Columbus Zoo also confirms that once the animals have a sufficient size and weight to survive on their own, they will be returning to SeaWorld Orlando. They will spend a brief time at the care facility before being going back to their native range in Florida.