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Tampa-based company helps transport dolphin from Texas to Florida Keys

Posted at 5:53 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 18:08:16-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa-based air ambulance company helped get a dolphin from Texas to its new home in the Florida Keys all for free.

Ranger is an about two-year-old orphaned calf, who was suffering from an underlying respiratory infection and dehydration when he was rescued from Goose Island State Park in Texas last June. Ranger got care at the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center and made a full recovery.

“They determined that if they put him back in the wild without a family and friends to help him learn that skill, he wouldn’t survive,” said Linda Erb with the Dolphin Research Center.

The Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys was picked for his permanent home.

“We like helping people, and when we saw how cute that dolphin was, we couldn’t say no,” said Jared Wayt, the Director of Emergency Medical Services at Jet ICU.

Jet ICU, a Tampa-based air ambulance company, transported the dolphin from Texas for free, they say what would typically cost about $30,000.


“We fly all around the world, so going from Texas to Florida is not a big deal, but when there’s a 200-pound dolphin in the airplane, it changes a lot of things,” said Wayt.

On Friday, Ranger was loaded onto a Jet ICU air ambulance and flown to the Florida Keys. Wayt explained how they made it happen.


“We had a vet and a couple of trainers with us. We kept him comfortable, a little bit sedated for the flight. Kept him just moist and wet the whole time,” said Wayt. “About a two and a half hour flight into Marathon. Once we landed, Dolphin Research Center had their team ready to pick us up, put him in the back of a U-Haul, and drove him, and then we delivered him into a pool so all the vets could check him out. No issues, went very smoothly.”

Ranger is currently swimming in the Dolphin Research Center’s medical pool under careful monitoring while he gets settled in.


“To see the culmination of his entire rescue and rehabilitation come to fruition in his new forever home made me quite emotional, but it was all happy emotions, very happy emotions,” said Sarah Zigmond with the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center.

Jet ICU said after an initial quarantine period, Ranger will be transferred to the facility’s dolphin lagoons in Florida Bay and that he will gradually be introduced to other dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center and will have time to acclimate to his new surroundings, dolphin family members, and human friends.