Cincinnati Zoo's manatee released back into the wild

CINCINNATI, OH  (FOX19) - A 1,400 pound manatee that made its home at the Cincinnati Zoo has been released back into the wild.

'Slip' was released into the waters of Blue Spring State Park in Florida on Monday.

Slip called the Cincinnati Zoo home from August 2005 to October 2009, before he was moved to Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. After four months of pre-release conditioning and evaluation, he returned to the wild with over 140 other manatees lingering in the Florida waters.

"The partners within the Manatee Rescue and Release Program were very happy with Slip's successful release. He is a very healthy, large manatee that deserves the opportunity to be a wild animal" said Nicole Adimey, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS). "Blue Spring is a very important aggregation area for manatees in the winter months. This spring will provide Slip with the opportunity to socialize with other manatee where consistent warm water is provided and also have a nearby food source. Additionally, Blue Spring offers the chance to monitor Slip on a regular basis thanks to efforts from the Park and Program staff, as well as other partners."

The Cincinnati Zoo's manatee program has been on hold for the last four months, while USFWS selects two more manatees to return to the Zoo's Manatee Springs in April. During the anticipated hiatus, the Zoo has made the most of the opportunity by upgrading the manatee tank and mechanical systems in preparation for its new residents.

Last October, Slip alongside his roommate, Lil' Joe, traveled 774 miles across the country to begin their journey of being released back into the wild. The manatees had to go through several months of pre-release conditioning to ensure they would be ready to return to life on the wild side.

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