Featured photo by Jacksonville Zoo
Back in February, the Jacksonville Zoo completed and opened their brand-new Manatee Critical Care Center, which serves as temporary housing for rescued injured manatees. Manatees at the center will be rehabilitated by zoo staff in preparation for release back to the wild whenever possible.
Since August of 2006, the Jacksonville Zoo has been partnering with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to operate a dedicated Marine Mammal Response Team with local stranding events. Until now, the team has only able to help in responding to injured and cold-stressed manatees and transporting them to other accredited rescue facilities in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami. With the completion of their own rehabilitation center, the zoo can now make greater contributions to conservation of this iconic species.
The manatee rehabilitation facility is viewable by zoo guests, except in cases where a manatee requires solitude for medical treatment. The center can hold up to 5 or 6 animals at once, but due to the temporary nature of rescue operations, there is no guarantee that manatees will always be present in the facility. The ability to see manatee rescue and rehabilitation in action is an excellent educational opportunity for guests to understand how their support of the zoo contributes to wildlife conservation.
The new Manatee Critical Care Center is an excellent example of a zoo participating in local conservation. Many zoos and aquariums operate rescue facilities to treat, rehabilitate, and release local wildlife. Supporting your local zoo or aquarium by visiting and becoming a member is an easy way to ensure that wildlife is preserved for generations to come.