Sustainability Environment

Four SeaWorld manatees flown to Ohio for treatment

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Story at a glance

  • Four manatee calves from Orlando’s SeaWorld were transported to Ohio’s Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for treatment on Saturday.
  • SeaWorld, one of five critical care manatee facilities in the United States, has seen a record number of manatees needing care, amid more than 1,100 manatee deaths in Florida in 2021.
  • The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of two facilities outside of Florida that also provide manatee care.

Four manatee calves from Orlando’s SeaWorld were transported to Ohio’s Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for treatment on Saturday. 

“This transport was necessary, given the record number of intakes occurring, to make additional room for rescued manatees in need of emergency critical care at SeaWorld’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Center,” a press release said. 

SeaWorld, one of five critical care facilities for manatees in the United States, has seen a record number of manatees needing care, as more than 1,100 manatee deaths were reported in Florida in 2021. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of two facilities outside of Florida that also provides manatee care. 


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DHL Express donated its services to fly the four manatee calves from Orlando to Columbus. 

The calves will be cared for in Columbus until they gain enough weight to be returned to their original habitat in Florida’s waters. 

Manatees, which are listed as “threatened” on the endangered species list, are facing combined ecological and man-made threats, including starvation, as their primary food source of seagrass continues to be depleted. They are also threatened by boat strikes, fishing entanglements and more. 

“We are incredibly proud that—even from our location in the Midwest—the Columbus Zoo is working with dedicated partners to take an active role in helping these amazing animals in crisis,” Becky Ellsworth, curator of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Shores and Aquarium region, said in a statement. “It is truly devastating to see what is happening to manatees.” 


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