- Rescued by the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, SeaWorld San Antonio, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas State Aquarium, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Galveston Bay Foundation and Texas Authorities, the manatee completes eight months of rehabilitation at SeaWorld San Antonio and is returned to Florida waters by members of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership
- SeaWorld partner DHL Express provides air transportation for the manatee from Texas to Florida in a custom, state-of-the-art container built specifically for manatees
- This is the third manatee SeaWorld San Antonio has rehabilitated for cold stress, due to the uncommon presence of manatees in Texas
ORLANDO, Fla. and CINCINNATI, OH (July 28, 2022) – SeaWorld and DHL Express today announced that they have joined forces to transport a manatee from Texas to Florida via air after successfully being rehabilitated for eight months at SeaWorld San Antonio. The manatee was rescued in December 2021 by the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, SeaWorld San Antonio, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas State Aquarium, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Galveston Bay Foundation and Texas authorities and transported to SeaWorld San Antonio for rehabilitation. Members of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) – SeaWorld Orlando, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute (CMARI) and Dauphin Island Sea Lab – worked together to return the manatee to Kings Bay in Crystal River this morning. As the manatee population continues to decline as a result of an ongoing Unusual Mortality Event (UME) on the Atlantic Coast, the collaboration of dedicated partners across the nation is necessary to protect and preserve this critical species. In this case, SeaWorld San Antonio stepped up to provide care for this manatee throughout his rehabilitation, thus preserving an extra rehabilitation space for a manatee in Florida.
Steve Aibel, Vice President of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld San Antonio said they’re always ready to help manatees in need when necessary. As manatees continue to face threats amidst an unusual mortality event, it’s important that animal care experts across the nation step in to help ensure the preservation of the precious species.
Earlier this year, the manatee was found suffering from cold stress, flipper damage, severe weight loss and other ailments in Texas waters. While manatees are typically known to reside in Florida, seasonal migrations to other southern states have increased in recent years. This is only the third manatee SeaWorld San Antonio has rehabilitated due to the uncommon presence of manatees in Texas.
Keeping Animals Safe and Secure During Transport
Due to the size and delicate nature of manatee air transports, it can be difficult to find adequate transportation. Turtles Fly Too, an organization that coordinates air transports for animals in need, worked around the clock to try to secure an aircraft and pilot to transport this manatee to Florida. In the end, SeaWorld turned to longtime partner DHL Express to facilitate the manatee transport.
To make this move possible, DHL Express transported the manatee in a custom, state-of-the-art container built specifically to hold manatees and according to the requirements of the International Animal Transport Association (IATA) – the regulatory group overseeing all animal transport over land, air or sea. Working with the IATA, SeaWorld helped establish the first transport unit standards for the safe transport of cetaceans and manatees, which includes the use of open-top units designed to allow the animals to move around and adjust for comfort as needed while remaining safe within their container.
The container housing the manatee is designed with high-density, lightweight and insulated foam and secured on a palette attached to the floor for stability. The manatee rested on an 8” bed of open cell foam under a layer of 2” closed cell foam that offsets the weight of the animal and provides maximum comfort. The manatee was then covered in wool and space blankets to maintain a healthy body temperature and was constantly monitored during flight by SeaWorld animal care specialists using laser thermometers. To keep the body moist, the manatee was misted with water under its blankets throughout the flight.
“This is our fifth manatee successfully transferred through our global Hub in Cincinnati this year, and DHL is thrilled to continue supporting the effort to preserve and protect the manatee population,” said Cain Moodie, SVP of Network Operations and Aviation for DHL Express Americas. “Moving manatees is an intricate process, so the speed and reliability of our air network, coupled with the extensive logistics planning with SeaWorld and their partners, helps ensure these wonderful creatures get back safely to their natural habitat.”
Rescued and Returned Back into the Natural Springs of Florida
Following a successful transport from Texas to Florida, the manatee arrived at SeaWorld Orlando for a 48-hour observation period to ensure its health had not been impacted by the travel. Once the manatee was cleared by SeaWorld veterinarians, the manatee was transported to Kings Bay in Crystal River where it was returned to the warm waters. The manatee was tagged for a Dauphin Island Sea Lab project investigating manatee habitat use and distribution in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.
Since 1976, SeaWorld has helped ill, orphaned, and injured manatees, rescuing and rehabilitating 1,300 manatees to date. While this is only the third manatee SeaWorld San Antonio has ever rehabilitated, SeaWorld Orlando has an extensive history of helping manatees in need. SeaWorld Orlando’s five-acre Rescue Center has the capacity to care for up to 40 manatees at a time – the largest space available in the United States – and its facilities have a wide range of critical care amenities including lifting floors, top-of-the-line therapeutic and diagnostic equipment, and expert veterinary staff.
“As manatees continue to suffer from a dangerous unusual mortality event, it’s more important now than ever to dedicate our time, energy and resources to ensuring their continued survival,” said Jon Peterson, VP of Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando and Head of SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team. “We’re grateful for the continued partnership and dedication from organizations like DHL and others who help make rescues, rehabilitations and returns not only possible, but safe and successful as well.”
SeaWorld also is credited for life-saving innovations in animal care and treatment for manatees, including developing a special baby manatee formula adaptable to meet each individual nursing calf’s requirements and creating a hand-feeding baby bottle that imitates a mother manatee. SeaWorld pioneered manatee treatment techniques including ultrasound, anesthesia, X-rays, surgery, and thermography. SeaWorld veterinarians were also the first to put a cast on an injured manatee.
About SeaWorld Entertainment
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter, and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The Company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry, and veterinary care. The Company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The Company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned, or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 40,000 animals in need over the Company’s history. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld®, Busch Gardens®, Aquatica®, Sesame Place® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 60-year history, the Company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The Company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.
DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry. Our DHL divisions offer an unrivalled portfolio of logistics services ranging from national and international parcel delivery, e-commerce shipping and fulfillment solutions, international express, road, air and ocean transport to industrial supply chain management. With about 380,000 employees in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, DHL connects people and businesses securely and reliably, enabling global sustainable trade flows. With specialized solutions for growth markets and industries including technology, life sciences and healthcare, engineering, manufacturing & energy, auto-mobility and retail, DHL is decisively positioned as “The logistics company for the world”.
DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL Group. The Group generated revenues of more than 81 billion euros in 2021. With sustainable business practices and a commitment to society and the environment, the Group makes a positive contribution to the world. Deutsche Post DHL Group aims to achieve zero-emissions logistics by 2050.