With the help of DHL, the world’s leading logistics provider, the “Sea Cow Shuffle” took place in the United States earlier this month. Three manatees, Woodstock (Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden) and Pixie and Wheezy (Columbus Zoo and Aquarium), were driven to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to board a DHL flight to Florida, accompanied by an animal care specialist and veterinarian from the zoos.
The animals will remain under the care of manatee experts at Miami Seaquarium, SeaWorld Orlando and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo until winter, when they will potentially be released into Florida waters near the areas where they were originally rescued. Two of the large aquatic mammals will be outfitted with satellite tracking devices to continue to monitor their health and wellbeing.
The manatee move, between October 11 and 14, forms part of an ongoing programme to save orphaned, injured and abandoned marine mammals, placing them in a critical care centre and sending them to the zoos after they are restored to health, and eventually returning them to the wild.
In this operation, DHL also transported two other manatees, Abigail and Rae, from Miami to the two Ohio zoos in Cincinnati and Columbus as part of the zoos’ participation in the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP).
Manatees can be found in the warm waters of shallow rivers, bays, estuaries and coastal waters. They are well known for their gentle, slow-moving nature and have also been known to body surf or barrel row when playing. They normally rest and feed often, and communicate by squealing under water, to demonstrate fear, stress or excitement.
“Without a doubt, manatees are one of the most charismatic creatures and certainly one of both Ohio zoos’ most popular animals,” said Thane Maynard, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. “We are extremely proud to be part of this conservation programme and excited to welcome both Abigail and Rae to Ohio.”
DHL provided the manatee crates that were placed in an open-top cargo crate locked into the cargo hold at each airport. The manatees were kept as far away from engine noise as possible while waiting to be loaded and their crates were loaded last, so that they could be unloaded first after arriving at their destination.
“DHL is especially pleased to be part of this important manatee transfer and rehabilitation project,” said Joe Collopy, regional sales manager at the DHL Express Americas hub in Cincinnati. “DHL Express has many years of experience successfully moving live animals around the world – all in part to contribute to the zoos’ important work of protecting endangered species.”