Plantaina is 1 of 6 manatees to complete rehabilitation at Walt Disney World Resort over the last year, promoting the survival of this endangered species.
Walt Disney World Resort animal care experts helped the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with the successful release of Plantaina—a young female manatee—at Blue Spring State Park, approximately 50 miles northeast of Walt Disney World Resort.
According to a company release, Plantaina was rescued when she was under 1 week old near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after she appeared to be abandoned. As a 680-pound manatee today, she was only 28 pounds at that time, making her the smallest manatee ever rescued. After a successful initial rehab, Plantaina was released back into the wild in February 2021, though she was found to be losing weight. This required another rescue and rehabilitation before arriving at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT.
"Manatees are an iconic species in Florida, and their conservation impacts all of us," said Scott Terrell, DVM, director of animal & science operations at Walt Disney World Resort, in the release. "Caring for these amazing creatures benefits all of the animals that live in their coastal habitats and the human communities around them."
As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership, Disney teams up with other rehabilitation facilities and its animal care experts offer ill and injured manatees a stable, controlled environment required to recover and prepare for release. The manatees receive exceptional veterinary care (ie, preventive health exams, a calorie-rich diet, and 24/7 monitoring) to help them return to the wild in good health. Plantaina is 1 of 6 manatees to finish rehabilitation at Walt Disney World Resort over the last year, according to the release.
Some manatees, including Plantaina, are assigned a satellite tracker when released to help experts monitor the animal's health, migration, and socialization. These satellite trackers are created to break away if they become entangled to prioritize the manatee's health.
Manatee rescues and rehabilitations are becoming more prevalent in Florida. A significant lack of food is continuing to threaten this endangered species as runoff and pollution continue limiting the availability of seagrass, their main food source, which manatees can eat up to 300 pounds daily, according to the release.
To help restore the seagrass and offer care for the manatees, the Disney Conservation Fund provided donations to more than 15 nonprofit organizations to improve understanding of manatee populations, biology, and habitat use.
Disney assists with successful rehabilitation and release of manatee. Walt Disney World. March 4, 2022. Accessed March 7, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/disney-assists-with-successful-rehabilitation-and-release-of-manatee-301496142.html