The Cincinnati Zoo is welcoming three orphaned manatees while having to bid a fond farewell to two others.
While the facility accepted Pippen, Miles and Matthew from SeaWorld Orlando this week, Betsy and BamBam will be returning to Florida waters.
The trio is in need of rehabilitation and will soon be swimming and receiving tender loving care in the Cincinnati Zoo’s Otto M. Budig Family Foundation Manatee Springs habitat, the zoo said.
BamBam will reside at SeaWorld Orlando with manatee experts until he is eventually released into the wild next year, while Betsy has already returned to her birthplace, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, just in time for her 27th birthday.
The moves are a part of collaborative efforts by participants of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), a program designed to rescue and treat sick, injured and orphaned manatees before returning them to their natural habitat.
BamBam will be the 14th manatee to be released after receiving rehabilitation at the Cincinnati Zoo.
“Being part of the MRP is a huge undertaking," manatee care team member Lindsay Garrett said in a statement. "While we do get attached, we know that this is all part of a much bigger picture. Each time a manatee leaves, it means they are going back to the wild and that we’ve done our job.
"It means that all of the time and effort was worth it. The wild population of manatees gets to add another member, and we can provide a home for another animal in need.”
The Zoo can still keep tabs on BamBam after his release. He will be outfitted with a satellite tracking device so his health and well-being can be monitored by the MRP.
“We are extremely proud to be part of this conservation program and excited to welcome Pippen, Miles and Mathew to their new home in Cincinnati,” Thane Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, said in a statement. “There’s nothing better than being able to work with these amazing creatures and ultimately see them return to the wild."