SeaWorld Orlando expands its manatee critical care facility

by Susan and Simon Veness

SeaWorld Orlando has announced plans to add three new pools to its manatee care facility, doubling its size and giving it the largest capacity in Florida and in the United States.

SeaWorld Orlando manatee rescue

During a VIP press conference on March 22, 2022, SeaWorld outlined its expansion plans, stating it will add to its ability to help save manatees through the installation of additional pools that will increase capacity to accommodate 60+ manatees in need.

Three new pools will add 200,000 gallons of water for manatee response in a large, round pool flanked by to smaller oval pools. Each will be covered and shaded for the comfort of rehabilitating manatees.

In addition, a new critical care lift floor will be added to an existing pool to aid in raising the animals safely for health checks, treatment, and to administer medical care.

The Orlando park currently has one of the largest manatee rescue operations in the world, and remains one of only five critical care facilities in the U.S. The changes and additions will aid in caring for a record number of manatees in crisis due to the Unusual Mortality Event (UME).

SeaWorld Orlando Manatee rehabilitation

“The crisis facing manatees is not letting up, and we know that SeaWorld’s existing rescue center infrastructure gives us the foundation upon which to quickly build and expand to care for animals in need,” said Jon Peters, VP of zoological operations at SeaWorld Orlando, head of SeaWorld Orlando Rescue team, and chairman of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership. “That larger space, together with our sizable, highly specialized and experienced manatee care team means that we are able to mobilize quickly and effectively to help save the lives of these animals, and in doing so help save the species from extinction.”

Since 1976, SeaWorld has been on the front line of helping to save ill, orphaned, and injured manatees, and the Florida team has rescued and rehabilitated more than 800 to date.

Five temporary pools have been in use since February 2022, and will be replace by the tri-pool complex this summer.

“Our state’s official marine animal – the manatee – has a special place in every Floridian’s heart,” said Florida Congressman Darren Soto. “I’d like to thank SeaWorld and other MRP partners for all they do to help rescue animals in need, and provide the best care and rehabilitation possible to successfully get them back into coastal waters. I hear constantly from my constituents that helping manatees is an issue of high importance to them. Therefore, the Manatee Protection Act is yet another important way we can help by granting the manatees the highest level of federal protections possible.”

The new pools will be operational in July 2022. The entire project is expected to be complete in 2023.

For more on SeaWorld Orlando’s rescue program, click here.

Manatee Rehabilitation Area at Seaworld Orlando

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