Manatee calves rehab at Miami Seaquarium

Rae found orphaned; Pilgrim hit by boat near Key Largo

MIAMI - Two manatee calves are receiving a second chance as they rehab at the Miami Seaquarium.

Rae was found swimming alone near Key Largo in July.

"When she came, she was hungry, dehydrated, definitely stressed," said Jodi Tuzinski, a keeper at the Miami Seaquarium.

Rae was found as a newborn, and the Miami Seaquarium has quickly taken over the parental duties.

"It's around the clock with her," said Tuzinski.

The animal has slowly become more trusting of her caretakers.

"In the beginning, I would not be able to sit here and have her just come over to me, but now she's more comfortable with me being in the pool," said Tuzinski. "She comes over and she just nuzzles with her muzzle."

Since Rae arrived at the Miami Seaquarium in July, she has nearly doubled her weight. It will still be a few years until she is released back into the wild.

Pilgrim, another manatee calf, is also rehabbing at the Miami Seaquarium. The nearly 1 year old, 250 pound manatee was found near Key Largo before Thanksgiving.

"He was hit by a boat and one of his ribs is broken, which tore the lung, which means that there is air filling up his body cavity, so if you take a look at him, he floats," said Tuzinski. "We're just here for their best interests, trying to get them to be able to get better, get medication, eat, get the nutrition they need, so it's a process."

The process is possible because of the rescue and rehabilitation of these marine mammals.

"You can't even fathom that they're going to live through it and then they do and are able to be released again, so it's pretty amazing," said Tuzinski.

Pilgrim will be released back into the wild when his rib heals. The Miami Seaquarium rehabilitates and releases nearly a dozen manatees each year.

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