Wooten, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's 630-pound Florida manatee will soon be heading home.
After arriving at the Cincinnati Zoo two years ago, Wooten will return to the wild as part of the US Fish & Wildlife Service's (USFWS) Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program.
The last chance see Wooten at the Zoo's Otto M. Budig Family Foundation Manatee Springs exhibit will be Sunday, Nov. 4. Wooten was seen at the Cincinnati Zoo for the first time on November 4, 2010.
The USFWS recently deemed Wooten releasable, after nearly two years at the Cincinnati Zoo, as he now has enough extra weight to transition to life in the wild. He was brought to the Cincinnati Zoo after being rescued in Florida's Orange River.
Due to his size at the time, experts agreed that he was more than likely an orphaned calf. Young manatees, left alone in the wild do not typically fair well as they have no protection from large predators. In addition, they seem to stay in the area they lost their mothers, which can result in cold stress if they are late fall travelers. They are usually very weak and are in need of nourishment, when rescued, as they are typically still of nursing age.
On Nov. 5, Wooten will travel to the Miami Seaquarium before being released back into the Orange River, near Ft. Myers, at a date still to be determined. Since he was rescued from the Orange River, it is hoped that he may have some recollection of the area which would benefit him greatly.
Wooten is the 11th manatee the Cincinnati Zoo has rehabbed and released back to the wild. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of only two facilities outside of Florida to participate in the USFWS' Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program.