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Rescued twin manatees leave Columbus Zoo, return to Florida

Twin manatees, Millennium and Falcon, completed their 22-month rehabilitation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Twin manatees Millennium and Falcon at the Columbus Zoo (Photo: Grahm S. Jones)

POWELL, Ohio – Twin manatees began their journey back to Florida Monday night after completing their 22-month rehabilitation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Millennium and Falcon were rescued as orphans off the coast of Florida.

A member of the Columbus Zoo’s animal care team, along with a staff veterinarian, traveled with the twins to the Miami Seaquarium. There, the zoo says the manatees will complete their final preparations to be released back to the area in the Florida Keys where they were initially rescued.

Millennium and Falcon were orphaned at a young age when their mother, a manatee well-known to researchers who tracked her for years, suffered fatal boat-related injuries. The twins arrived at the Columbus Zoo weighing just over 100 pounds, making them some of the smallest manatees to arrive at the facility.

With Millennium and Falcon now in Florida, the Columbus Zoo is currently caring for five manatees: Agua, Goober, Heavy Falcon, Carmen, and long-term resident, Stubby. Due to the extensive injuries she received from a boat strike, Stubby is a conditionally non-releasable animal.

“We care deeply about all of the manatees who have come to the Columbus Zoo for rehabilitation, so each goodbye is a little bittersweet, especially when it comes to these incredibly special twins. However, given how small they were when they first came under our care, we are also very proud to have helped Millennium and Falcon overcome their challenges so that now, at approximately 525 pounds each, they can be healthy enough to be released back to their native range. Our participation in the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership is extremely important to us, and we remain committed to working with our partners to care for other manatees in need of our assistance in the future,” said Becky Ellsworth, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Shores region curator.