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'SwimShady' and 2 other manatees are nearly ready to leave the Cincinnati Zoo for Florida

three manatees in a row looking at the camera
Terry Haussler
/
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
These three manatees will soon head home to Florida to finish their rehabilitation.

Three manatees in the Cincinnati Zoo's rehabilitation program are almost ready to head back to their native waters in Florida. "SwimShady," "Alby" and "Manhattan" are scheduled to leave in early October.

The trio garnered media attention when zoo staffers named one SwimShady — a play on "Slim Shady" rapper Eminem — a good fit for another Manatee Springs resident, a gar named "Snoop Logg."

They'll go first to a care facility to get re-acclimated before being released into the wild.

The three orphaned manatees arrived at the zoo 18 months ago to undergo rehabilitation. Alby and Manhattan were both rescued from the wild in 2019 and SwimShady was rescued in 2020. All arrived in Cincinnati March 24, 2021.

"Our primary goal, as a second-stage care facility, is to provide plenty of food and get the manatees to a healthy weight," says Cincinnati Zoo curator Kim Scott in a release. "These three have consumed about 166,158 lbs of food, mostly lettuce, during their time here and have gained a combined total of about 1,000 pounds."

The zoo's manatee rehabilitation program has worked with 20 rescued manatees from the wild — with these next three, the number will be 23. So far, 19 have been returned to the wild, according to the zoo. A manatee named "Betsy" lived temporarily in Cincinnati from 2010 to 2017 but was returned to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, Florida, where she was born.

Cincinnati is one of just a few facilities outside Florida with manatee rehabilitation programs through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP).

"The goal of the MRP is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release manatees, and we’re honored to play a role in this important conservation work," Scott says.

The zoo doesn't expect Manatee Springs to remain empty for long. Information about new manatees will be released soon, the zoo says.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.