If you are fortunate enough to enjoy Florida’s warm coastal waters and springs, you might have the opportunity to see a unique species of marine mammal, the Florida manatee, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. Manatees are often referred to as “sea cows” because they are herbivores that graze on freshwater and saltwater plants. There are natural threats to manatees in the wild, like cold stress, red tide toxicity, and human-related injuries like boating accidents, getting trapped in flood control structures and eating fish hooks and litter.
The David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center is the first non-profit critical center for injured and sick manatees. With three 16,000 gallon medical treatment pools, two underwater treatment pools, and a public observation area, you can see the rehabilitation process right before your very eyes. Our team of fearless females on the manatee care team work day-in and day-out to tend to the patients in their care. Their passion for manatees is clear as they hope to inspire the next generation of manatee lovers to protect the species.
David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center at ZooTampa
The story of the manatees at ZooTampa spans 25 years and over 430 treated manatees, since the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center opened in 1991. The manatee critical care center was the first ever built to care for ill or injured manatees.
The manatee critical care center features three 16,000 gallon critical care pools, two underwater treatment pools, and a public observation area from which guests can observe veterinary and rehabilitation procedures in real time!
Boat strike injuries, entanglements in pollution, cold stress, red tide toxicity, and loss of a parent are some of the main reasons why manatees come to the manatee critical care center. A dedicated team of animal care and veterinary staff tend to the manatees 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
To enhance animal welfare and expand our mission to save Florida wildlife, ZooTampa recently completed extensive upgrades to the water filtration system at the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center. This new, upgraded life support system allows us to provide advanced, specialized care for the welfare of manatees and treat even the most severe cases.