MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An 800-pound pregnant manatee has made her way back to Florida.
It wasn’t an easy journey, but Washburn is now being cared for at SeaWorld after making the 1,300 mile trip from Connecticut.
The hope is that she will be healthy enough to give birth in the wild.
She was rescued in Massachusetts last month. She was then sent to an aquarium for rehab before making the long trip back home to Florida.
Manatees are not native to Massachusetts, and the water is too cold for them to survive.
In an arduous move coordinated between SeaWorld and multiple agencies, including the Florida Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Washburn was loaded into a truck, hoisted onto a crane and flown back to Florida.
Staff flew with her, keeping her skin wet the whole time.
She began to eat and swim in her rehabilitation pool immediately after she was released.
Washburn will be monitored 24/7 until she is ready to be returned to her natural habitat.
If all goes well, the plan is to release her into open water, so she can give birth there.
‘We’re seeing that the baby’s growing and it’s got a nice steady heartrate,” said Dr. Lara Croft. “Everything looks really good. It was active this morning, so we’re very optimistic.”
Once she gets re-settled here, Washburn will be chipped so she can be tracked in the future.