Behavioral patterns of a manatee in semi-captivity: implications for its adaptation to the wild

  • Published source details Mercadillo-Elguero M.I., Castelblanco-Martínez D.N. & Padilla-Saldívar J.A. (2015) Behavioral patterns of a manatee in semi-captivity: implications for its adaptation to the wild. Journal of Marine Animals and their Ecology, 7, 31-41.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Hand-rear orphaned or abandoned marine and freshwater mammal young

Action Link
Marine and Freshwater Mammal Conservation
  1. Hand-rear orphaned or abandoned marine and freshwater mammal young

    A study in 2003–2009 at a coastal site in Guerrero Lagoon in Quintana Roo, Mexico (Mercadillo-Elguero et al. 2015) found that an orphaned Antillean manatee Trichechus manatus manatus calf reared in captivity and released back into the wild was unable to survive on its own and had to be returned to captivity. Five months after release, the male manatee calf (aged 2.5 years) had lost 33% of his body weight (30 kg) and had a skin condition (hyperkeratosis). An earlier release attempt also failed. The calf was returned to semi-captivity, in which food was provided (fruit and vegetables) and the calf could move freely between a captive facility and the wild. In 2009, the manatee (aged 6 years) was reported to be dependent on human care. The manatee calf was rescued in September 2003 and reared for eight months in a plastic pool. The calf was then transferred to an enclosure within a lagoon inhabited by wild manatees. Release was attempted in July 2005, but the manatee followed people and returned to the enclosure. The manatee was finally released in September 2005 before being returned to captivity in February 2006. The manatee was monitored in 2005–2009. Behavioural observations were carried out in 2008–2009.

    (Summarised by: Anna Berthinussen)

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