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ZooTampa asks for help protecting manatees during Manatee Awareness Month

Posted at 12:27 PM, Nov 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-20 15:50:32-05

TAMPA, Fla. — November is Manatee Awareness Month. Currently there are 14 manatees at ZooTampa being nursed back to health.

It can take up to five people to hold down a 500-pound sea cow named Slate. Dr. Lauren Smith and her staff attempted to get some measurements and a sonogram on Tuesday.

“It’s a really good sign in some instances that animals are so feisty, that means that they have a lot of vigor, that they are so energetic and in good condition,” said Smith.

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Every manatee in ZooTampa’s care is recovering from a medical condition.

“The manatees that we have here are critical care animals, meaning they were sick, distressed, have some type of issue that made them come into the hospital,” said Smith.

It’s quite possibly their busiest stretch of the year, one of the reasons November is such a fitting time for Manatee Awareness Month.

“We’ve got boat strikes from the summer, we are entering cold weather, so manatees are very sensitive to cold water temps, and then we have red tide that looms in the water,” said Smith.

Dr. Smith is asking for the public’s help. She said simple practices like not littering and slowing down your boat in manatee zones can make a difference when it comes to protecting these mammals.

“You don’t have to work in a zoo to be a huge participant of conservation, you can make an impact here locally,” said Smith.

As for Slate, his medical exam is looking promising. He could be splashing around in the wild by the end of the year.

“It’s my job to take these animals and get them back out, so there is nothing that brings me greater joy than completing that mission,” said Smith.