A female manatee rehabilitated at Disney’s Epcot returned to her natural habitat for the second time


Manatee rehabilitated at EPCOT returns to its natural habitat

Disney Parks

A young female manatee is back in her natural Florida habitat after being rescued a second time last year and temporarily moved to The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot at Walt Disney World for treatment.

Walt Disney World Resort welcomed Plantaina the manatee for the second time last February after the animal lost weight after its first release into the wild, according to a Tuesday blog post by Scott Terrell, Director of Animal and Science Operations at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts.

In the post, Terrell praised the Disney cast members and the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership for helping send Plantaina home.

“The level of passion and teamwork that our cast members dedicate to all animals is inspiring, even for those only temporarily in our care, like the rescued manatees, which are an iconic Florida species. “, Terrell shared in his blog post on Tuesday.

RELATED: Toronto Zoo welcomes baby male giraffe nicknamed ‘Little Long Legs’

Rescuers first took Plantaina into human care less than a week after the manatee was born near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to Terrell. She was the smallest manatee ever rescued, weighing just 28 pounds at the time.

The manatee returned to its habitat in February 2021 after “an initial successful rehabilitation”, according to Terrell. However, she began to lose weight and needed a second rescue and rehabilitation stay shortly after her release.

Now, having returned to a “healthy” weight of 680 pounds, Plantaina has been released back into the wild for the second time, Terrell added. Rescuers released the manatee at a freshwater spring on the St. Johns River at Florida’s Blue Spring State Park, located about 50 miles northeast of Walt Disney World Resort.

Manatee rehabilitated at EPCOT returns to natural habitat 

Manatee rehabilitated at EPCOT returns to its natural habitat

Disney Parks

“I am so proud to work with a team of animal care experts who are passionately dedicated to protecting manatees and their natural habitats,” the director wrote. “With each successful release, we continue to work towards a better, more sustainable future where people, plants and animals all have a thriving place to call home.”

RELATED: Colorado Mountain Lion safely relocated after curious dog finds large cat under family bridge

Six manatees have completed rehabilitation at Disney in the past year, according to Terrell’s post. During rehabilitation, Disney animal care experts provide “exceptional veterinary care” to sick or injured manatees in “a stable, controlled environment.”

“Once released, some manatees like Plantaina are assigned a satellite tracker that allows experts to continue monitoring the animal’s health, migration, and socialization with other manatees,” Terrell wrote.

Manatee rescues are becoming more common in the Flordia area due to to a shortage of seagrass that is starving manatees. To help, Terrell said the Disney Conservation Fund has awarded grants to more than 15 nonprofit organizations to help better understand the biology and habitat use of the manatee population, in addition to helping restoring seagrass and providing care for manatees.

“It is so rewarding to see these funds helping animals right here in our own backyard,” the director wrote in his post.


Comments are closed.