WDW and Fla conservationists release rehabbed manatee

Plantaina, a female manatee, was released into Blue Spring State Park after being rescued at under a week old. The effort was the work of Walt Disney World Resort’s animal experts and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

"Manatees are an iconic species in Florida, and their conservation impacts all of us" said veterinarian Scott Terrell, DVM, and director of animal & science operations at Walt Disney World Resort. "Caring for these amazing creatures benefits all of the animals that live in their coastal habitats and the human communities around them."

Plantaina was discovered abandoned at about a week of age and only 28 pounds. She now weighs about 680 pounds. Initially rehabilitated and released in early 2021, she quickly began to lose weight and was captured again for additional care. She was taken to a facility at Epcot to be rehabilitated with experts in manatee care. More than 20 manatees have been rehabilitated at the location in previous years.

Disney’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership has provided the species with a place to recover if animals are sick or injured. At the location, manatees undergo preventive care, are monitored 24/7, and are fed an adequate diet. Animals are then equipped with a satellite tracker to monitor manatees once they are released. With the monitoring information, professionals can observe the manatee’s health, migration, and socializing with other manatees.

Manatees are endangered in Florida as pollution has dwindled their main food supply, seagrass. Manatees under care at Disney were fed romaine lettuce, apples, carrots, and sweet potatoes. 

Disney’s Conservation Fund also offers grant funding to 15 nonprofits researching manatee biology, habitat, populations, and how to restore seagrass.

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