Last March, we welcomed rescued manatee Jasper to The Seas with Nemo & Friends. Our hope was to be able to release him back to his natural habitat in about a year, after he gained weight and received medical care for cold stress.
I am very pleased to report that Jasper did very well, and our Animal Programs team released him in the Indian River Lagoon on the Atlantic Coast of Florida on February 22. By that afternoon, we had received a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that Jasper was cavorting with a group of 30 other manatees.
The same day, Animal Programs animal care experts brought another rescued manatee, Vail, to The Seas. Vail has been cared for in manatee rehabilitation facilities since he was injured nearly 15 years ago due to a watercraft strike. A portion of his tail paddle is missing – an injury similar to that of The Seas resident manatee, Lou. Vail became comfortable in his new habitat at The Seas very quickly – he had eaten 10 heads of lettuce within a couple of hours of arrival!
Guests can see Vail and Lou, shown here in a photo by Gene Duncan, when they visit Epcot.
With only 5,000 around the state, manatees are considered an endangered species in Florida. We are very proud to play a role in their rehabilitation. Disney guests also play an important role through their contributions to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.
Recent Wildlife Wednesdays:
That is awesome news, and I’m glad to hear Jasper is adjusting back to his natural habitat well.
Can you provide any updates on Bock, the manatee who was rehabbed and released prior to Jasper?
Looking forward to meeting Vail; I hope he and Lou become good buddies; poor Lou could use a longtime friend, I’m sure!
I was just there on Sunday and I could not believe how active these two manatees were! I go see that exhibit all the time and I have never seen such playful behavior…they were like two brothers wrestling with each other. Glad they are being cared for so well.
Its so awesome that Disney provides rehab for so many animals. I cant wait to meet Vail when I come down in 3 weeks