KEY BISCAYNE (CBS4) – At the Miami Seaquarium, a young manatee is trying to survive. His name is Pigpen and he was rescued just yesterday in Ft. Pierce as he was trying to escape the cold waters.

“They’re having a hard time. This is a little manatee that was trying to come south for the winter and just didn’t make it. He ended up in a little mud puddle in Ft. Pierce,” said Dr. Maya Rodriguez, a veterinarian at the Miami Seaquarium.

Dr. Rodriguez says Pigpen is suffering from cold stress.

“The cold really affects them like it affects them like affects humans. They get frost bite on their extremities. On the little tip of their flippers, on the tip of their nose because they come up to breathe. So they get the frost bite the same. The only difference is, it shocks them,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

It shocks them to the point where these giant sea animals don’t even want to eat their lettuce. At 350 pounds, Pigpen still hasn’t eaten today. That’s where Charlie comes in. Charlie is another manatee undergoing treatment here. Like us humans, manatees are very social.

“And sometimes we feel like if one is eating the lettuce, it’ll encourage the other to eat the lettuce. They’re very social and they rehabilitate together very well,” said Dr. Rodriguez.

“Typically at the Miami Seaquarium we get eight manatees a year, on average,” said Jodi Linvill, animal care supervisor.

But Linvill says this year is record-breaking. Pigpen is the 24th manatee rescued this year and brought to the Miami Seaquarium. That’s triple the average.

The team of specialists here attributes it to both the cold weather and the boaters going way too fast in manatee zones.

“They’ve got enough to deal with, with just nature itself, so if we could do our part and watch the manatee speed zones, it’ll help them out,” said Linvill.

If you’d like to support the manatee rehabilitation program at the Miami Seaquarium, you can make checks out to: “Wildlife Trust MRP” and send to:

Wildlife Trust

1603 3rd St., South, Suite F

St. Petersburg, FL 33701


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