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Orphaned baby manatee receiving care at Zoo Tampa

The baby is around 45 pounds and is getting bottle fed around the clock.

TAMPA, Fla. — Zoo Tampa has one precious new baby under its care.

An orphaned manatee calf, rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) off the coast of southwest Florida, was brought to the zoo's critical care facility.

The baby is around 45 pounds, which Zoo Tampa says is way too small to be without a mom. Because he's so young, the zoo is bottle feeding him around the clock.

And it's almost too cute to handle.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to go see the baby in person right away. 

Molly Lippincott, a curator at Zoo Tampa, says they're looking for the manatee to gain about a pound a day. And once he's big enough, he'll be placed in the Zoo's front pool for visitors to see him up close.

The goal is to eventually release the manatee back into the wild, according to Lippincott. That will be when he grows to about 600 pounds and is deemed healthy enough, which will take a couple of years.

Zoo Tampa works hand in hand with the FWC to get animals in need to the zoo's critical care facility.

If you see a sick, injured, or orphaned manatee, contact Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC.

Credit: Zoo Tampa