Yesterday morning, Sept. 27, SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Sea to Shore, rescued a wayward manatee nicknamed Lil Joe who was lost in the Little Econlockhatchee River in Seminole County, Fla.
It is estimated that he traveled more than 25 miles from the St. Johns River to this highly unusual location bringing his travels through treacherous conditions and dangerous water levels just a few miles from downtown Orlando.
Today, Lil Joe is approximately 14 feet long and 1,000 pounds and again is in need of care from SeaWorldanimal experts. He was transported from the Little Econlockhatchee River to SeaWorld’s Manatee Rehabilitation Facility for evaluation by SeaWorld’s Veterinarian and Animal Rescue Team. Lil Joe has responded well and is eating on his own. Once his weight increases he’ll be evaluated and continue to receive round-the-clock care until he is able to be returned to his natural environment.
SeaWorld's animal rescue team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. So far in 2012, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 14 manatees.
If you see an injured marine animal while in Florida, you can help by calling the FWC hotline at 1(888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on your cellular device.
Lil Joe is no stranger to SeaWorld Orlando. In July of 1989, as a young orphaned manatee he was rescued near Daytona Beach, Fla., and brought to SeaWorld’s Manatee Rehabilitation Facility. Weighing only 42 pounds, this tiny calf was given the nickname, Lil Joe.
Throughout the span of 20 years, Lil Joe has been rehabilitated at various facilities including Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Fla., SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego and the Cincinnati Zoo. In 1990, he was even visited by President George Bush at SeaWorld Orlando. And just last summer, Lil Joe was brought back to SeaWorld Orlando’s care for rehabilitation and returned to the waters of Lake Dexter, Fla., shortly after.
Read more about Lil Joe's history with SeaWorld Orlando in the related blog stories below!
All manatee rescue footage produced by SeaWorld under FWS Permit Number MA7701911