The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has a Marine Mammal Response Team made up of Zoo staff that assists Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with the rescue and transport of injured marine mammals to rehabilitation centers in Florida, including our Manatee Critical Care Center right here at the Zoo. Once animals have recovered, they are released back into the wild.
More about our Manatee Critical Care Center
Committed to saving endangered species that live right in our backyard, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens constructed the first ever Manatee Critical Care Center in Northeast Florida. In the past, any manatee found to be cold-stressed or injured around the First Coast, needed to be transported to other care centers in Orlando, Tampa, or Miami. Building a Critical Care Center in Northeast Florida has provided more immediate care for the already-stressed animals and also cut down on transport distance and time for state employees and volunteers.
The $2.1 million center was funded by private individuals who recognized the need for a care center in the region, and a $500,000 grant from the State of Florida. Built to hold 5-6 animals at a time (pending each animal’s individual situation), the center provides temporary housing and care for manatees until they are healthy enough to be returned to safe waters.
Located at the juncture of the Education campus, Wild Florida, and the back of the African Forest gorilla exhibit, the center provides limited and periodic views of manatees for Zoo guests. However, due to the center only providing temporary housing, there may be times no manatees are present in the pools.
The story of Vilanzo the manatee.
Vilanzo was beached and cold stressed, but made some new friends while he was rescued, rehabilitated, and released back into the wild by Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.