Lowry Park Zoo
Location: Tampa, Florida
by Wayne Brown
Today we visited two places where people are trying to protect and care for manatees. Karen will talk about a place that provides shelter, warm water and fresh water to drink. I will tell you about a place that gives medical treatment to and takes care of injured manatees. On Day 6 and Day 1, we visited Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, and on Day 9, we visited The Living Seas, in EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World. Both of these places are places take care of manatees that have to been rescued and can't survive on their own in the wild. Unfortunately, these places can not take in manatees that need medical treatment for injuries or sicknesses. There are only three places in all of Florida that are called primary care treatment centers. These places are equiped to treat sick or injured manatees. These places can even do surgery on manatees to help them get better. Florida's three primary care treatment centers are the Miami Seaquarium, in Miami, Sea World, in Orlando, and the Lowry Park Zoo, in Tampa. On Day 4 we rescued 3 manatees. The mother and calf we treated and released. The large male manatee, named "Blue" (because he was rescued at Blue Waters in the Homosassa River) had a punctured lung and needed medical treatment and surgery. The injured manatee was taken to Lowry Park Zoo. Today we came here to visit Blue and tell you how he was doing.
It took us about 2 hours to drive from our base at Crystal River, to Lowry Park Zoo. We met veterinary technician, Mrs. Judy Kelly. Judy showed us around the special manatee care center here. Judy told us that the Lowry Park Zoo Manatee Hospital and Aquatic Center was the first place that built just for the research and rehabilitation of wild manatees. Here the zoo can take care of up to 12 manatees. There are 3 manatee treatment pools with their own life support systems. They even have their own hydroponics unit. This grows the special underwater plants that manatees eat in the wild. Part of this center includes an emergency treatment clinic to treat injured manatees, like Blue. The treatment areas are off-limits to the public, but their are two large habitats for treated manatees that have large underwater viewing windows for people to watch the manatees. The zoo seperates the boys from the girls, just like your teachers sometimes do at school. In one habitat we found two females, Cinco de Mayo and D.D..
Cinco de Mayo got her name from being rescued on May 5, 1996. When she arrived here she was about 6 years old. (How old is she now?) She was rescued from Doctors Pass in Naples. She has broken ribs, and a punctured lung from being hit by a fast moving boat. Cinco de Mayo is doing fine now and weighs over 1,000 pounds.
D.D. got her name from being rescued from the Dahoon canal, off Peace River, in Charlotte City. She was rescued on December 30, 1996. When she arrived here she was about 2 years old. D.D. had cold stress when she was rescued and was not eating. D.D. is now fine and weighs about 750 lbs.
In the other habitat we found two males, Stormy and Dundee.
Stormy was born at the Miami Seaquarium and came here after spending some time at Homosassa Sorings State Wildlife Park. Stormy was born July 22, 1985. He arrived at the zoo on December 27, 1990. He now weighs over 1,300 lbs.
Dundee was born at Sea World in Orlando. He was born July 11, 1986. He arrived at the zoo on October 21, 1991. He now weighs about 1,300 lbs.
We also met two other male manatees, OJ and J. Steinhatchee, that were back in the treatment pools, away from the main habitats.
OJ got his name from being rescued from the Orange River, near Ft. Myers. Unfortunately, OJ's mother had died from being hit by a fast moving boat and OJ was too young to survive on his own. He arrived at the zoo on February 24, 1998. When he arrived here he was about 1 - 1 1/2 years old. OJ is getting bigger and stronger every day. He now weighs over 300 lbs. and is gaining.
J. Steinhatchee got his name from being rescued in January from the Steinhatchee River. J. is a new arrival, coming to the zoo the 2nd week in January. He was rescued suffering from cold stress and was not eating. He is eating now and getting heavier every day.
Judy told us the zoo keeps very few manatees here permanently, b ecause they want to keep space available for injuried manatees that are rescued. After a manatee gets better they either release it, just like at a hospital for people. The manatee will either be released, if it can be released, or sent to another zoo. (One of theses manatees will soon be sent to the Columbus Zoo, in Ohio.)
We were supposed to met the manatee veterinarian, Dr. David Murphy, but Judy told us he was called out for emergency surgery on Blue the manatee. She said Blue was very sick and they were doing everything they could for him. Dr. Murphy would let us know how everything turned out for Blue, but, unfortunately, things did not look good. (We will give you the news on Blue as soon as we find her from Dr. Murhpy!)
We are glad there are places like Lowry Park Zoo were people can bring manatees that are sick or injured. Next, Karen will tell you about another place we visited, today, where people are helping manatees.
Judy tells Karen about the treatment center here at Lowry Park Zoo. The three pools here are all connected and have rain and shade covers over them. The crane truck in the back was just used to take Blue the manatee out of the water for emergency surgery.
You are seeing the back end of OJ and the front end of J. Steinhatchee. Some of their favorite food, water hyacinth, is floating on top of the water.
D.D. is in front and Cinco de Mayo is swimming around in back. (These two fish kept hogging the camera!)
Dundee is snoozing and Stormy is going over to try to wake him up. (He gave up and started snoozing, too!)
Time: 9:30 AM
Morning Air Temp: 63ºF
Afternoon Air Temp: 81ºF
Weather: Foggy until 11AM, then sun with scattered clouds. Rain in evening.
Miles traveled by kayak so far:
Total manatees seen so far: 65
Total mermaids seen so far: 6
PHOTOS TAKEN SO FAR
(Above water): 255
(Above water): 1174
Rolls of film shot
(36 exposures): 40 rolls
Tampa Electric Company
Distance from Crystal River:
Magellan GPS Location:
27º 47 minutes 59 seconds North latitude
82º 24 min. 07 sec. West longitude