COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three manatees who have been undergoing rehabilitation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have returned to their home state of Florida.
Scampi, Acorn and Einstein were brought to the Columbus zoo after being rescued as orphans off the coast of Florida, according to a release. The trio returned to Florida Saturday afternoon after traveling with a member of the zoo's animal care team and a staff veterinarian.
Scampi came to Columbus zoo on Oct. 22, 2020 after being found in Florida with her mother, Jumbo. The mother passed away due to injuries from a boat impact.
Scampi was housed at Miami Seaquarium before arriving to Columbus, where she gained more weight.
Acorn and Einstein were both rescued from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2020. Acorn was taken to ZooTampa after he was found emaciated in Crystal River.
Once he gained weight, he was transported to the Columbus zoo on April 24, 2021 weighing 315 pounds. He left the zoo Friday night weighing 698 pounds.
Einstein was also taken to ZooTampa in 2020 after he was rescued from the Steinhatchee River with his injured mom, who later succumbed to her injuries.
He was taken to the Columbus zoo weighing 470 pounds and now weighs 585 pounds.
All three manatees were considered healthy and ready to be taken back to Florida by the zoo's veterinarian.
The Columbus zoo's Manatee Coast habitat is still the home of six other manatees: MaryKate, Ashley, Cardi-Tee, Lizzo, Squirrel and Stubby.
Becky Ellsworth, the curator of the Columbus Zoo’s Shores and Aquarium region, said that each manatee that is brought into the zoo's care has an important story to be shared with guests.
"Every manatee steals our hearts while they’re in our care, and so it can be bittersweet to say goodbye. However, these are also the moments that we celebrate. As Scampi, Acorn, and Einstein begin this next phase of their return to Florida waters, it defines this remarkable collaborative program’s success in helping to protect the future of this species” said Ellsworth.
The Columbus zoo is a part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership and serves as a second-stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they can be released back into the waters. To date, the zoo has helped 32 manatees return to their Florida homes.