Injured manatee and calf rescued from canal

Posted at 6:41 PM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-11 07:30:29-04

What began as a smooth release into the wild for a manatee and calf, quickly turned into a rescue mission on Wednesday morning. 

People living in a New Port Richey neighborhood found the manatees stuck in the canal running behind their homes after city workers sealed the berm leading into the nearby river. 

"It was horrifying, you know to see that," said Bruce Housman, who called for help along with another neighbor. 

The manatees were stuck in the canal for more than a week, until crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission brought the mother and her calf out. 

That's when they discovered the mother's tail was more injured than they'd expected.

"We thought maybe it as a healed mutilation which they do get," said Andy Garrett, manatee rescue coordinator for FWC," but when we pulled her out we saw it was pretty raw." 

The two were taken to the Lowry Park Zoo's manatee hospital in Tampa where veterinarians think the mom was injured in a boating accident.

Just within minutes, staff there became optimistic when they saw the calf begin nursing and swimming closely to her mother. 

"That's a very good sign," said Ray Ball, a veterinarian at the zoo. 

Staff there expect her to recover, but she'll have to stay there for the next few months.