Most mums deserve a well earned rest this Mother’s Day, but spare a thought for SeaWorld Orlando’s Dr Lara Croft (yes, thats her real name!) who not only has two young children but is also responsible for looking after ill or orphaned baby animals rescued by the park.
Dr. Lara Croft – Manatee Mum
Manatees are some of the most demanding babies at SeaWorld, needing 24-hour round the clock care and attention, so Dr. Croft has her hands full being what you might call a manatee foster mum.
If you’ve ever wondered how looking after a baby manatee compares to looking after a baby human, check out Dr. Crofts top ten facts below.
One of SeaWorld’s rescued manatees
Enjoy, and happy Mother’s Day!
Feeding time – and these babies are hungry!
- Manatee calves weigh approximately five times more than human babies.
- Manatee calves nurse between one and two years. During this time they will start the transition to solid foods.
- Although manatee calves may be weaned by the end of their first year, the calf remains close to its mother for up to two years. It is dependent on its mother not only for nutrition, but also for learning about feeding and resting areas, travel routes, and warm water refuges. If one (in this age range) is seen in the wild on its own it may have been abandoned.
- The orphaned manatee calves at SeaWorld Orlando are bottle fed formula just like human babies, which they need every three hours on average. They are also weighed bi-weekly using a special swing crane to check that they are growing and developing properly.
- SeaWorld Orlandos manatee calf formula was developed in the park by the veterinarians and animal care specialists in consultation with an animal nutritionist. The formula consists of a hypo-allergenic formula base with added non carbohydrate based proteins. Additional basic and complex oils are added to provide building blocks for fat.
- It takes around 4-16 months to wean a manatee calf from bottle formula (depending on the calf), compared to about six months for human babies.
- The sleeping habits of manatee calves are unknown. Unlike human babies, who can sleep between 16 – 20 hours a day, manatee calves tend to rest for short periods of time before they are ready to go again.
- Manatees can weigh more than 2,000 pounds when fully grown. Manatees are herbivores, and their entire diet is made up of a variety of plant life, including: turtle grass, manatee grass, shoal grass, mangrove leaves, various algae, water hyacinth, acorns, and hydrilla.
- Orphaned calves are released when they weigh at least 600 pounds, which can take up to three years, to make sure that they are healthy enough to survive in the wild.
- All three species of manatees are on the endangered species list and are federally protected by law. Each calf that SeaWorld Orlando returns contributes to the overall manatee population and ensures the species survival.