Jacksonville Zoo and GardensJacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

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Marine Mammal Rescue Program

Marine Mammal Rescue
Photo by Craig Miller

Since August 2006, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens staff members have been assisting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) with local stranding events. In only a short time, Zoo staff has gained valuable experience with marine mammal species such as manatees, bottle-nosed dolphins, and right whales. The Zoo’s goal in starting the program was to give staff the opportunity to get directly involved with local conservation. Very quickly a positive relationship developed with FWC, and the program proved mutually beneficial. FWC can make one call and get all the trained animal care professionals they need. Most events have involved manatees and have included everything from rescues, to health assessments, to necropsies. Team members mostly volunteer on their own time, but the Zoo does also support participation ‘on the clock’ when appropriate.

Sheryl Staaden assists with Beaked Whale Necropsy
Zoo Staff assist in
Beaked Whale carcass recovery
on Bird Island in Northeast Florida
Photo by Artie Wong

In June 2008, the FWC marine mammal staff, as well as sea turtle and urban ponds staff, began moving their north Florida field lab to the Jacksonville Zoo grounds.

Sperm Whale Necropsy
Zoo Staff assisted
in a Sperm Whale necropsy
in the St. Petersburg, FL area
photo by Nadia Gordon

If you would like to learn more visit Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Florida Manatee Program.