Bittersweet news from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Tuesday. Beloved manatees Millennium and Falcon were returned to the Florida coast after 22 months of rehabilitation.
A member of the zooâ€™s animal care team and a zooâ€™s staff veterinarian traveled with Millennium and Falcon. They said the manatees arrived safely at the Miami Seaquarium.
The zoo says Millennium and Falcon were orphaned at a young age when their mother, a manatee well-known to researchers who tracked her for years, died from boat-related injuries.
The manatees were just over 100 pounds when they arrived to Columbus, making them some of the smallest manatees cared for by the team.
The zoo added that twin manatees are very rare, under 4 percent of all manatee births.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is now caring for five manatees: Agua, Goober, Heavy Falcon, Carmen, and long-term resident, Stubby.
â€œWe care deeply about all off the manatees who have come to the Columbus Zoo for rehabilitation, so each goodbye is a little bittersweet, especially when it comes to these incredibly special twins. However, given how small they were when they first came under our care, we are also very proud to have helped Millennium and Falcon overcome their challenges so that now, at approximately 525 pounds each, they can be healthy enough to be released back to their native range. Our participation in the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership is extremely important to us, and we remain committed to working with our partners to care for other manatees in need of our assistance in the future,â€ said Becky Ellsworth, the Columbus Zoo and Aquariumâ€™s Shores region curator.
The zoo said they will continue working as part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership to provide temporary homes for manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.