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Today, in conjunction with Manatee Appreciation Day, SeaWorld Orlando has opened a new area named “Manatee Rehabilitation” for park guests to see some of the behind-the-scenes rescue and rehabilitation work that SeaWorld does to help save wild manatees. Visitors are now able to get up close and step into the working wild manatee acute care facility as well as come face-to-face with animals that have been ill or injured.
The 5 acre Rescue Center is located near to the Turtle Trek attraction and has two pools to assist with nursing the manatees back to full health before they are released. A guided tour of the entire facility has been available for years, with ten percent of the cost donated to helping wildlife, but the park has now opened up sections of the manatee rehabilitation area for complimentary viewing to all guests.
Visitors are now invited to step behind-the-scenes to see firsthand the top problems today’s manatee populations are facing and learn simple actions to help. In addition to viewing the animals currently undergoing rehabilitation, guests can also see their digital medical charts, interactive exhibits, an underwater viewing camera and videos of the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team in action.
On our visit today, we saw two manatees happily munching on some lettuce and this is something park guests can expect to see as they tend to spend a lot of their time simply eating! Manatees can weigh up to 1,200 pounds and they love the waterways in Florida due to the warm temperature. They prefer to swim in water that is 60 degrees or warmer and SeaWorld’s pools are kept at a nice 80 degrees all year round.
The manatees are easy to see for young children and every three to five minutes you can expect them to surface to breathe. They are capable of staying underwater for 20 minutes though and the “Seacows”, as they are nicknamed, will move around at around three to five miles an hour even though they are capable of going at twenty miles per hour.
In opening the new area, SeaWorld hopes to generate awareness and educate visitors on their simple mission, to return every manatee they successfully rehabilitate back to the wild. The team works closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to determine when a manatee is ready to be returned as well as the proper time and location.
This opportunity is one of the first steps in the company’s vision to “turn the park inside out” and show guests how the company is helping wild animals in need.
More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com and here’s some video: