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Rehabilitated manatee successfully released back into water at TECO Manatee Viewing Center

Chandler the manatee spent a year rehabbing at ZooTampa's David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center.

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. — After more than 1,100 manatee deaths were reported in 2021, here's some good news to shine through the dark times.

A 720-pound manatee named Chandler, who was rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in January 2021, was finally returned to his native waters.

He was released Wednesday morning at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center.

The manatee was rehabilitated at ZooTampa's David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center, which is "home of one of only four critical care centers in the U.S. for injured, sick, and orphaned manatees," a news release from ZooTampa explains.

When Chandler was first rescued, he reportedly only weighed 490 pounds and was also suffering from cold stress.

He was released at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center because of his age and size making him an "inexperienced juvenile." 

At the viewing center, manatees gather in large numbers and are able to learn to migrate from the warm water sanctuary to other areas as the temperatures rise, zoo leaders say.

Watch ZooTampa leaders release Chandler in the video below.