Thursday, February 22, 2018
Travel

Manatee baby born at Lowry Park Zoo

A manatee rescued in January gave birth to a 67 pound baby at the Lowry Park Zoo in July.

The mama manatee, nicknamed Joannie, was rescued Jan. 31 from the St. John's River in Jacksonville suffering from cold stress, which can be likened to hypothermia in humans.

After several months of care at the David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital at the zoo, Joannie had recovered, but keepers delayed her release because she was pregnant. The zoo's manatee rehab team monitored her for several months, watching and waiting to find out if the calf had survived his mother's injuries.

After the birth of the healthy calf, nicknamed Lad, on July 13, Joannie became a mother a second time to an orphaned manatee, nicknamed Cheeno.

Cheeno arrived at the zoo on Feb. 15 from the Caloosahatchee River in Cape Coral, also suffering from cold stress. Though not a newborn at 142 pounds, he was too young to be on his own, and has now established a bond with Joannie. On occasion, Lad and Cheeno nurse at the same time, on opposite sides. With Joannie's help, Cheeno is packing on the pounds and Lad is gaining about 10 pounds a week.

The birth marks only the fourth in the hospital's history; the first was in May 2000.

The zoo's manatee rehab team hopes to release the mother manatee with her calf and "adopted" orphan this fall or winter.

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