Tampa Bay and Sarasota's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Tampa Bay and Sarasota, FL | WTSP.com

ZooTampa orders review after veterinarian is accused of killing manatees with shoddy care

President and CEO Joe Couceiro is ordering an independent review of what happened.
Photo: Courtesy of ZooTampa at Lowry Park

TAMPA, Fla. – Leadership at ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced Monday that a three-veterinarian panel has been assembled to review manatee treatments after accusations of malpractice against a senior veterinarian.

Dr. Ray Ball's poor medical care accidentally killed at least two manatees, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Now, Zoo President and CEO Joe Couceiro has called for an independent review after receiving a letter on Oct. 22 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

The letter asks for answers to questions about four manatee treatments performed by Dr. Ball, who has previously received USWFW grants for field research on treating injured manatees in the wild.

“We take any and all questions about animal care very seriously,” Couceiro wrote in a news release. “When we received the letter, we initiated an independent review. The zoo’s track record of providing excellent care in manatee rescue, rehab and release has been exceptional, and is recognized nationally and internationally.”

The zoo says its manatee program is held up by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums as a leading example of what zoos do for wildlife conservation globally.

Since 1991, ZooTampa has cared for more than 400 sick or injured manatees.

The review process is expected to take two weeks.

It includes a review of ZooTampa’s manatee facilities, care protocols, treatment records, research records and other documentation.

Related: 'We are devastated by this loss' | ZooTampa says heartbroken goodbye to okapi calf

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the 10News app now.

Have a news tip? Email desk@wtsp.com, or visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.