By Betsy Thorpe
As part of the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership, Disney’s Animal Programs team released a rescued manatee back into his natural habitat at Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, Florida. The manatee, named Bock, was released on February 24, into the warm waters of the St. John’s River.
The 500 pound orphaned manatee was rescued near Jacksonville in 2001. First reared at Sea World in Orlando, he was later transferred to The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Disney World’s Epcot Center. Soon after being weaned from a bottle by Epcot’s marine mammal experts, he started a diet of romaine lettuce, fruits and other vegetables. Bock now weighs more than 1,000 pounds and is approximately eight years old. Prior to his release, he was fitted with a satellite tracking belt to follow his movements and allow for behavioral observation. His progress will be monitored by the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership.
A partnership between the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership and Disney’s Animal Programs was established in 2001. The Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership is a cooperative group of nonprofit, private, state and federal entities that monitors the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees.