In conjunction with Manatee Appreciation Day, SeaWorld Orlando has opened its Manatee Rehabilitation area on March 30 for guests to visit.
While a guided tour of the entire facility has been available for years, with ten percent of the cost donated to helping wildlife, the park has now opened up sections of the manatee rehabilitation area for complimentary viewing to all guests.
The Manatee Rehabilitation area allows park guests to step into a working wild manatee acute care facility, and see the behind-the-scenes rescue and rehabilitation work the park does.
The guests will come face-to-face with animals that have been ill or injured, and follow their journey to recovery.
In addition to viewing the animals currently undergoing rehabilitation, guests can also see their digital medical charts, interactive exhibits, an underwater viewing camera, and videos of the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team in action.
They can also learn the top problems facing the manatee population in the wild, along with solutions to help.
I had the chance to interview Michael Boos, VP Zoological Operations at SeaWorld Orlando, who was kind enough to introduce us to the new Manatee Rehabilitation guest area:
SeaWorld’s goal for every animal rescued is to successfully rehabilitate and return it to the wild. The team works closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to determine when a manatee is ready to be returned as well as the proper time and location.
Their hope for this new area is to generate awareness and educate visitors on their simple mission: To return every manatee they successfully rehabilitate back to the wild.
Here is a video I shot of two young male manatees feeding in a rehabilitation tank:
In addition to the vegetation thrown in the water, some vegetation is attached to pipes, to encourage the manatees to forage for food on the bottom of the waterway. This way, when they are returned to the wild, they are fully capable of feeding themselves.
This opportunity is one of the first steps in the company’s vision to “turn the park inside out” and show guests how the company is helping wild animals in need.
Access to the Manatee Rehabilitation area is included with admission to SeaWorld Orlando.