A loveable manatee with a challenging past has been returned back to the wild for a second time.
Tuesday, Pixie the manatee was released in Blue Spring State Park in Florida again along with Sarge, another manatee rehabilitated at SeaWorld Orlando. Both were fitted with satellite tracking tags and will be monitored by Sea to Shore Alliance and the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership.
Ocean Advocate News first reported about Pixie the manatee last spring when she was recaptured from Blue Spring State Park for behavior modification.
Pixie was originally rescued on July 24, 2010 when she was found orphaned at only a few weeks old in Daytona Beach. She was transported to SeaWorld Orlando and handreared for more than a year.
In November 2011 Pixie headed north to continue her rehabilitation at Columbus Zoo. She was the smallest manatee to receive care at the zoo.
On October 11, 2013 Pixie was returned back to Florida in preparation for release at Lowry Park Zoo.
She was released in Blue Spring State Park, winter home for manatees, on January 29, 2014.
By March, the other manatees had moved out of the spring but Pixie remained. This became problematic when swimmers arrived, and Pixie proved to be too people-friendly for her own safety. She had several close encounters with swimmers, and became aggressive in her pursuits with people when ignored.
It was decided that she should be recaptured for behavior conditioning to wean her off human attention. Officials were concerned for her safety and worried of the potential danger of her approaching boats and ending up getting hurt. She has been at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa for further rehabilitation.
Ocean Advocate News will continue to follow Pixie. We are hopeful that her second release will be a success.
Manatees have no natural predators but face other challenges such as cold stress, boat strikes, entanglements from crab trap line, and ingestion of fishing hooks and monofilament.
If you live in the Central Florida area, you can visit Pixie, Sarge and hundreds of other manatees in winter months at Blue Spring State Park. This weekend is the 30th Annual Manatee Festival in the park, which will include crafts, education, entertainment and more.