• Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens preparing to release 3 manatees back into the wild

    By: Varisa Lall Dass , Action News Jax


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is preparing to release three manatees that have been healing in the zoo’s Manatee Critical Care Center. 

    Staff members and veterinarians from the zoo, Sea World, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Sea to Shore and Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa performed diagnostic tests on the docile, warm-blooded creatures to ensure their safe release into the wild.

    All three passed with flying colors.

    Sea World rescued two of the manatees, Cassie and Buckeye, as orphans off the coast of South Florida. 

    Cassie and Buckeye have spent most of their lives at the Jacksonville Zoo. They’re scheduled to be released in February off Cape Canaveral.

    Sea World rescued a third manatee off the coast of the Carolinas after it suffered extensive skin damage from cold water stress.

    That manatee has been at the zoo for the past three weeks.

    Because that manatee is wild, unlike Cassie and Buckeye, who were raised in captivity, veterinarians hope to release her before February. 

    Jacksonville Zoo veterinarian Meredith Persky spoke about how rewarding the youngsters release is.

    “It feels really good to care for something and be able to put it back in the wild so they can make many manatees for generations to come,” Persky said.

    Now that the manatees are set to be released, that will leave an opening for the zoo to treat new manatees in the Critical Care Center. 

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