On 12 February, an orphaned manatee, rescued and rehabilitated by the SeaWorld Rescue Team and partner facilities in 2015, returned to SeaWorld Orlando after teams were alerted to an unaccountable weight loss in the juvenile male.
Buckeye was first rescued - orphaned and underweight - in Daytona Beach, Florida in September 2015. He spent more than two years with the SeaWorld animal care team for extended rehabilitation and care, including round-the-clock attention and bottle feedings. He was transferred to the Jacksonville Zoo as part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in late 2017 and was returned to Blue Springs State Park in March 2018, weighing 272kg (42st 9lb) more than when he was rescued, a healthy weight to be able to thrive in a natural environment, especially during colder winter months.
Yesterday’s rescue was a preemptive intervention, allowing SeaWorld veterinarians to conduct diagnostic testing on Buckeye to identify the cause of the weight loss. The team is hopeful that Buckeye will be cleared for return to Blue Springs State Park in the near future.
In 2018, the SeaWorld Rescue team assisted with a record number 72 manatees suffering from a variety of aliments including cold stress, red tide and entanglement. The goal with every rescue is to rehabilitate and return the animal as quickly as possible.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), South Florida Museum, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, the Jacksonville Zoo and Sea to Shore Alliance work with SeaWorld works with the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who together monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees.
The SeaWorld Rescue team is on-call 24/7, 365 days a year, giving marine animals a second chance at life.