SeaWorld taking care of first cold-stressed manatee of the year

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SeaWorld Orlando is rehabilitating its first manatee of the year suffering from cold stress syndrome.

Florida Fish and Wildlife, Sea2Shore and a local chapter of the Save the Manatee Club rescued the 725 pound manatee from Lake Griffin in Lake County on Tuesday. He was transferred to SeaWorld Orlando’s critical care animal hospital where he is being treated.

“He’s very lucky to be here at this time,” said Jon Peterson, curator of rescue operations at SeaWorld Orlando. Peterson said manatees like warm water and need the temperature to be at least 68 degrees.
He said local water temperatures are starting to drop below that in Florida. Peterson said manatee 1902 was in chilly waters for about two weeks before being rescued. The animal is suffering from dehydration and has light gray sores on its body.

“When you start getting to the abscessing you’re pretty far into cold stress syndrome. The next thing past that is probably death,” Peterson said. “Getting to them as fast as we can and getting them into warm water and giving them hydration is the most important thing.”

Peterson said the manatee is still critical but his team is giving him two liters of water twice a day and medication to help him recover. He’s also submerged in a pool where the water temperature is 80 degrees. He hopes the manatee can be released back into the wild in a few months when the weather is warmer.

Peterson said every year, on average, SeaWorld Orlando rehabilitates about a dozen manatees with cold stress syndrome.