Keeper’s (Underwater) View of the Manatees

The three manatees that arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo on November 3, in a “sea cow shuffle” that involved six institutions and nine manatees, are adjusting well to their new home.

The largest and the smallest manatees.
Wooten and Betsy. The largest and the smallest!

For those of you who may not have been introduced to our new sea cow trio, here is a quick run-down of who’s who.  Betsy is our 1,800-lb female who came from Homosassa Springs State Park and is 20 years old.  Illusion and Wooten both were living at Miami Seaquarium before arriving here, and formed a friendship while there.

Illusion was rescued in March 2010 after being struck by a boat, and her injuries from the propeller are very obvious.  Wooten, our little guy, was found as an orphan in February and is just about a year old.

Illusion is very curious, especially with our divers when they are cleaning.  She loves to roll in the hoses that they use, and also seems to enjoy when the keepers are treating her wounds.  The keepers are keeping a close eye on Illusion’s injuries, making sure that they are healing properly so that she will be ready for release next year.

Illusion the manatee
Illusion came to us from the Miami Seaquarium

Wooten is our eating machine, though he would rather steal a head of lettuce from one of the girls than go get one of his own.  Like any youngster, he likes to investigate new things but will quickly swim back to his buddy, Illusion, if he is unsure of things.  If he continues to eat like he does now, he may hit the 600 lbs. mark needed to be released next year.

Betsy is a very typical manatee, laid back and timid while taking her napping and snacking very seriously.  She seems to be a magnet for the smaller two, especially at naptime when they all usually huddle together near one of the logs in the exhibit.

The trio of manatees together
Illusion, Betsy & Wooten in Manatee Springs.

We are very excited to have these three be the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth manatees to call the Cincinnati Zoo their temporary home.

I shot some underwater video of their first hours in Manatee Springs…