Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lectures at the Columbus Zoo


West African manatees in Ohio? Well no, but the Columbus Zoo does have one of the few Florida manatee exhibits outside of Florida, and also has supported my manatee research in Africa for the past 4 years. They invited me up to Ohio to give a couple talks about my work, so this past week I spoke to their Conservation Committee, as well as a group of zookeepers and docents. It was really fun to be able to share my work with them face to face.

I also got a tour of most of the zoo, including the manatee exhibit of course! This is the entrance of Manatee Coast. I loved the way it makes you feel as if you're on the edge of a mangrove forest. The building has a retractable roof, so it's open air in summer. And the tank glass allows you to see both above and below the water... an eye to eye view of the manatees. There may be a need for a manatee rehabilitation center in Africa someday, so the Columbus exhibit gave me lots of inspiration.
This is a view across the manatee tank. The public is on the right and those are real mangrove trees on the left!
In this view a manatee named Stubby (because she's unfortunately missing most of her tail fluke) is watching the visitors. Columbus currently has 6 manatees... all were rescued due to injuries. There are 4 juveniles who were rescued in Florida with cold stress symptoms (similar to frost bite in humans) during the unusually cold winter last year. They will go back to Florida to be released back to the wild once they're fully recovered.
In the wild, manatees eat aquatic plants such as seagrass on the bottom of bays and rivers as well as plants that grow along the edge of waterways. So captive manatees are fed both at the surface and from bottom feeder units to simulate their natural environment. The manatee exhibit includes a display that discusses manatee telemetry (tracking) research and shows a real tag and belt. I hope to create similar displays in several African museums.
I'd like to extend my huge thanks to Becky Rose, Field Conservation Coordinator (on right) and Carrie Pratt, head curator of Columbus Zoo's manatee exhibit (on left), who organized a fantastic visit for me. Thanks so much to everyone at the zoo for all your enthusiasm and hospitality!

6 comments:

Jacky Maille said...

Manatees are scary! If I saw one, I'd run and be all like, "That manatee tried to eat me!"

Lucy said...

No Jacky, manatees aren't scary! They are very shy and would never hurt you. They only eat plants.

joven said...

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ihigh5sharks said...

Lucy, thank you so much for all of your effort. You are such a wonderful person, I can tell by reading this.
I love manatees. They are so beautiful:)

Amber said...

Your blog is so wonderful Lucy.
I love manatees, thanks so much for sharing all of this!

Lucy said...

Thanks for the nice comments, you all made my day! :-)