Captive breeding

From: Save the Manatee (
Date: Mon May 01 2000 - 11:37:41 EDT


Thanks for your question regarding breeding manatees in captivity. Manatees are protected under U.S. federal law by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. A recovery plan for manatees is coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and sets forth a list of tasks geared toward recovering manatees from their current endangered status.

At present, the U.S. Fish and Wildife Service believes that a captive breeding program for manatees is not warranted. Captive breeding is usually a last resort, necessary only when a wild population is too small or widely scattered to breed successfully. Currently, there are an estimated 2,400 manatees living in the wild. Therefore, the Service believes that the focus of manatee conservation should remain on the wild population. Manatees are still reproducing successfully in the wild and, if the upward trend in boat-related mortality can be reversed by site-specific speed zones and comprehensive manatee protection plans, the Service believes that the wild population will hold its own.

Captive breeding would increase crowding in facilities currently needed to treat injured and sick manatees. Another major consideration is the high cost of holding large numbers of manatees in captivity for extended periods of time. In addition, the Service is not sure that captive-born manatees can survive in the wild. Wild-born manatee calves remain dependent on their mothers for up to two years and the mother teaches the calf a great deal about migration routes, feeding spots, and thermal refuges in the winter.

I hope this answers your question. Thanks so much for your interest in manatees.

Nancy Sadusky
Communications Director
Save the Manatee Club
500 N. Maitland Ave.
Maitland, FL 32751
1-800-432-JOIN (5646)
----- Original Message -----
  From: kattiedid
  Sent: Friday, April 28, 2000 8:50 PM
  Subject: aquaculture: manatee preservation

  Hi there.

  As a student of aquaculture, I am interested in any progress you may be aware of in the area of breeding manatee in captivity. My understanding is that this has not yet been accomplished. Is that true? Do you know of anyone interested in funding research in this field?

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