Bottle feeding rehab manatees in lagoon enclosure

“My name is Erica Holding and I am 14 years old. I am interested in studying animal rehabilitation. I have been with the CRC for 2 years and have been able to have many amazing experiences. This past week, I was able to stay at Wildtracks for 3 days to learn about manatee rehabilitation. During this time I learnt how to feed and monitor young manatees, how to bottle feed larger manatees and how to help manatees exercise and build their muscles. I am very appreciative for the opportunities CRC had given me and I am excited to learn more.”

A few weeks ago, a baby manatee (less than a month old) was seen alone and in distress near Belize City. Thanks to many local Wildlife Champions, and Jamal Galves and his team from Clearwater Aquarium, this baby manatee calf was captured and transported to Sarteneja, Corozal District up to Wildtracks, the manatee rehabilitation center in Belize. Now safe and receiving immediate care and attention, the question was “who is going to help us care for this manatee 24/7?” The baby manatee was in a critical stage in which it needed to be fed often as well as monitored which included a person staying inside its pool to provide comfort and monitoring. Wildtracks sent out a call for assistance (as they also had other manatees in rehab to care for). When CRC received a message from one of the co-founders of Wildtracks we responded with “when do you need us.”

In the last 3 weeks the CRC team has rotated in turns in regards of heading up to Wildtracks and helping out our friends and colleagues (we have some team members there right now!). But the one team member who was most excited was our senior Next Gen Croc student Erica who wants a career in wildlife rehabilitation. Erica headed up to Wildtracks with CRC Co-founder and Executive Director Dr. Marisa Tellez for a few days to volunteer our time, but also to learn what is needed in caring for a manatee in distress to ensure we can provide the proper response and support in southern Belize if needed. Needless to say, this was providing Erica with some priceless experience, as well as building her confidence as a future rehabber.

All smiles during the 2-4am shift!

Our first night included monitoring the baby manatee from 2-4am, followed by a day of swimming with a 2yr old manatee named Nugget who loves nibbling on pockets! Swimming with Nugget was not for enjoyment, but to ensure she stays active, has company, and builds strength in her muscles. We also fed some of the older rehab manatees in the lagoon enclosure who will soon be released.

We are delighted to say at this moment in time, the baby manatee is doing great! In their 30 years, Wildtracks has done an amazing job in manatee, as well as monkey rehab, giving these animals another chance in the wild and furthering their conservation. For more information, check out: http://www.wildtracksusa.org/

Thank you to CRC and Next Gen Croc supporter Gil Rotstein for your donation to help us out with travel expenses! And thank you to Annelise Hagan for sharing your lagoon bottle feeding photo with us!

Monitoring the baby manatee
While cleaning the pool, the baby manatee is moved outside but must remain wet so not to overheat
Going for a swim with Nugget