Brevard Zoo collecting donations to establish dedicated manatee rescue team

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Brevard County sees nearly three times as many manatee rescues, and deaths, as any other county in Florida, according to the Brevard Zoo.

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In response, the zoo has launched a plan to help preserve one of Florida’s favorite creatures.

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The zoo is trying to raise $30,000 to establish its own team with the necessary equipment and personnel to take the lead in area manatee rescues.

“Florida’s just an incredible place that we have this amazing ecosystem that includes lots of different animals, but manatees are very special,” Brevard Zoo Director of Conservation Jody Palmer said.

More than 1,000 manatees have died in Florida waters this year, many during the first months of the year from starvation.

We are ONE day out from kicking off our #GivingZOOday campaign! This year, we are answering the call to help one of...

Posted by Brevard Zoo on Monday, November 29, 2021

With Winter approaching again, several different organizations are looking to avoid another “unusual mortality event.”

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“This coming Tuesday, the zoo is holding  “Giving Zoo Day,” which is our spin on giving Tuesday,” Palmer said. “What we’re trying to do is raise $30,000 to go toward assembling a team of employees here at the zoo that we can deploy at a moment’s notice, whenever our partners at the FWC need help with a manatee that’s in trouble.”

According to the zoo, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would still take the lead on area manatee rescues, but the zoo’s team would be present as a resource for them as manatee rescue season kicks into gear in December.

“The $30k is going to cover the equipment for the animals to be comfortable to be transported to a critical care facility, but it’s also going to help us have professional staff for the next four months,” Palmer explained. “We anticipate sending out staff on a designated day to help FWC as we go through these four months of winter when we expect to see most of these rescue happen, which is why the time is so critical now more than ever before.”

According to FWC, there is concern that the manatee population will again struggle to find adequate food sources. Particularly, the portion of the Indian River lagoon that is popular with manatees has seen a decline over the past decade that started with algal blooms that reduced water quality and clarity.

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Training for the volunteers who will assist FWC is expected to begin next week.

For more information, including how to donate to the zoo’s manatee rescue team, click here.

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