Columbus Zoo welcomes four rescued manatees from Florida for rehabilitation

When animals are unable to fend for themselves in the wild — for instance, after being injured or orphaned — they can often find sanctuary at zoos and aquariums, receiving professional help and rehabilitation.

That was the case recently, after four at-risk manatees were transferred to the Columbus Zoo for safe care in what has been called an “important species survival effort.”

According to a press release from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, in Ohio, four juvenile manatees — Lizzo, Cardi-Tee, MaryKate, and Ashley — were transferred to their care from Orlando’s SeaWorld’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

📸: Manatee transfer in collaboration with Sea World Orlando and DHL Express. The four new manatee arrivals at the…

Posted by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Sunday, January 16, 2022

The zoo explains that the rescue was overwhelmed by a record number of manatee intakes. Because the Columbus Zoo is “one of only two facilities outside of Florida to care for manatees,” they received the four manatees for the next phase of their rehabilitation.

Florida manatees have been dying off in huge numbers, with over 1,100 manatee deaths reported in 2021, according to the press release, and they are considered “threatened” by the Endangered Species List with a population steadily decreasing to “dangerously low levels.”

So it is crucially important to get every manatee the best possible care, and these four young manatees are now in good hands.

“Every individual manatee is important to the species’ future,” the zoo wrote. “These new arrivals represent the 36th, 37th, 38th, and 39th manatee that the Columbus Zoo has rehabilitated since Manatee Coast opened in 1999.”

The manatees received their names from their dedicated rescuers, who are handling their health issues. Lizzo and Cardi-Tee were rescued as orphans, the zoo wrote on Facebook, and formed a close bond, so they were named after music stars and real-life friends Lizzo and Cardi B.

📸: Manatee transfer in collaboration with Sea World Orlando and DHL Express. The four new manatee arrivals at the…

Posted by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Sunday, January 16, 2022

MaryKate and Ashley, meanwhile, were named after the Olsen twins, because they looked so identical.

Transporting the manatees from Orlando to Columbus was no small task: every precaution had to be taken to ensure the manatees’ safe travel.

“Transporting animals is a precise process where everything must be executed flawlessly,” Jon Peterson, VP of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando, Head of SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team and Chairman of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, said in the press release. “When you add an air component on top of the land transfer, the complexity multiplies exponentially.”

With the arrival of any rescues to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium or animals born at our park, people are always curious…

Posted by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday, January 19, 2022

SeaWorld and the Columbus Zoo teamed up with the DHL Express shipping service, utilizing custom-built, state-of-the-art shipping crates to get the manatees to their new home.

“DHL is thrilled to be a part of this effort to help preserve the manatee population,” said Cain Moodie, SVP Network Operations & Aviation for DHL Express Americas.

The four manatees have now arrived, and are reportedly “setting in nicely” in Columbus as they continue their rehabilitation journey.

📸: Manatee transfer in collaboration with Sea World Orlando and DHL Express. The four new manatee arrivals at the…

Posted by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Sunday, January 16, 2022

“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,” said said Becky Ellsworth, curator of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Shores & Aquarium region.

“We recognize that there’s still a lot of work that still needs to be done to help, and even during these catastrophic events, our resolve is strengthened to continue making a difference.”

📸: Manatee transfer in collaboration with Sea World Orlando and DHL Express. The four new manatee arrivals at the…

Posted by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Sunday, January 16, 2022

We’re so glad these manatees have made it to their new home, and will continue to receive much-needed care.

With these beautiful creatures dying off at such an alarming rate, it’s important to do everything you can to help every last one.

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