A manatee named "Truffleshuffle" returns to his native waters in Florida soon after undergoing rehabilitation at the Cincinnati Zoo. Truffleshuffle became the 20th manatee to be rehabilitated by the zoo's Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) when he arrived in 2019.
He won't be making the trip alone. A second manatee, "Pippen," is also heading home. He arrived in 2017.
"It's tough to see them go, but it's also a moment to celebrate," says Winton Ray, manatee curator. "Our role in the MRP is to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned manatees that have been rescued and so they can ultimately be released back into the wild."
From Cincinnati, the animals head to SeaWorld Orlando where they'll get acclimated to the Florida climate ahead of release. The zoo expects Truffleshuffle to be released in early 2021. Pippen, who is smaller, may need to stay a little longer before release.
The animals will be on display through Friday morning.
Unlike previous trips, Cincinnati zookeepers will return empty-handed. Manatee Springs is scheduled for renovation and repairs and no new manatees are expected until spring of 2021.
Cincinnati and Columbus are the only two zoos outside of Florida that participate in the MRP.