Subject: Manatee:Export Manatees (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 23 May 1997 11:08:02 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 22 May 97 03:36:00 GMT 
Subject: Export Manatees

Export Manatees

   FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Manatees that cannot live in the wild
are filling up facilities set aside for their care, forcing
wildlife officials to seek places outside Florida that are suitable
to the endangered animals.
   "The rehabilitation facilities are crowded beyond their
capacity to care for the animals, so we're looking at
alternatives," said Robert Turner, manatee rehabilitation
coordinator at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
   The wildlife service has never moved manatees out of Florida,
where five facilities care for 50 or so animals that have been
injured or orphaned.
   While many will eventually be returned to their natural
habitats, about a dozen cannot be released to the wild because
they've been in captivity too long, were too badly injured or were
orphaned too young.
   "If somebody can build a good facility that meets the standards
we have in Florida, we're not opposed to them receiving permanent
captives," said Kipp Frohlich of the Florida Officeof Endangered
   So far the Columbus Zoo in Ohio is the only facility that has
talked seriously about the idea. Its board of directors has
approved a $25,000 feasibility study.
   Other offers have been rejected.
   "I've been approached in the past by facilities that wanted to
display manatees, and I told them that's not going to happen,"
Turner said. "But now we're in a position where we need help."
   Earlier this year, scientists counted 2,229 of the endangered
sea cows in Florida waters. A record 415 manatees died in Florida
last year; 151 of those perished in Southwest Florida between March
5 and April 27 due to red tide toxin.
   Manatees are now at five facilities in Florida: Florida Lowry
Park Zoo in Tampa, Sea World in Orlando, Epcot in Lake Buena Vista,
the Miami Seaquarium and the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park.