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Join us on #GivingZOOday to help save manatees.

With your help, your Zoo has been able to answer the call from our community to aid local wildlife and ecosystems for the past 27 years. We’ve taken on conservation projects like restoring the Indian River Lagoonrehabilitating local sea turtles, translocating Florida scrub-jays, monitoring diamondback terrapins and breeding the Perdido Key beach mouse… and we’ve been able to do these things because of you. 

Now, we want to answer the call on #GivingZOOday, November 30, to help one of Florida’s most beloved animals—manatees.  

Gentle Giants in Need 

Brevard County sees nearly triple the number of manatee rescues—and deaths—than any other Florida county. Already in 2021, we’ve seen the manatee death toll surpass previous records, with more than 1,000 manatee deaths this year, a more than 120% increase over 2020’s 456 deaths and more than double the five-year average of 473. 

Your Zoo wants to help save these gentle giants, but we need your help. 

Our #GivingZOOday Plan

With your support, Brevard Zoo will establish a manatee rescue team to help our partners at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). While FWC will continue to take the lead in area manatee rescues, our trained team will be a resource for them to call on as manatee rescue season ramps up in December. 

We need $30,000 to establish this team with the necessary emergency equipment and manpower. Your donations will be used toward a box truck to facilitate manatee transportation; a PIT tag scanner to check for internal identification tags; and a stretcher, strap system and waterproof pads to help carry these massive animals. 

Manatee being lifted off truck during release

Because of the size of manatees, rescues and releases require special equipment such as stretchers, straps and pads.

Given the dire plight of manatees, we need to also transition our staff from volunteers into a specialized team of trained professionals who can answer emergency calls from FWC to rescue local manatees. Your generosity will give us the ability to dedicate that manpower.  

Our History Helping Manatees 

Back in 2016, FWC reached out to Jody Cassell, our Director of Conservation, about the need to help manatees in our region. Given Jody’s enthusiasm for assisting manatees, she described the opportunity as a “dream come true,” and the Zoo immediately began calling on staff and volunteers to assist FWC on a voluntary basis with manatee rescues, releases and research.

Over the past five years, our Zoo staff and volunteers have spent hundreds of hours assisting FWC with manatee rescues and releases. You may recall in the past that we helped release rehabilitated manatees like SouthprongSusan and mother-and-daughter duo Baba and Jaetay. Given the physical weight of a manatee, these events require all hands on deck.  

Because manatee rescues and releases are time-sensitive, the need for volunteers is dependent on the needs of the individual animal. Calls for help may come twice a week or not for several weeks at a time, making it difficult to keep a consistent Zoo volunteer force. 

By creating a designated manatee rescue team, we can be available more often and at a moment’s notice when FWC requires our assistance.

Looking Back at #GivingZOOday 

#GivingZOOday, in partnership with GivingTuesday, celebrates the impact zoos and aquariums have on their communities by engaging visitors to be stewards of the environment and saving species from extinction. 

Because of your help in the past, we’ve been able to keep our 900+ animals fed for five months during the start of the pandemic, rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles at our Sea Turtle Healing Center, give our rescued Florida black bear the best possible care and so much more.  

Your support each #GivingZOOday has helped us meet these crucial needs not only affecting the Zoo, but also our local wildlife. This year, with your help, we can aid manatees during this critical time. 

An anonymous donor has already pledged to match the first $10,000 given to our specialized team. By donating now, you can double your own investment in local manatee care. 

While #GivingZOOday will take place on November 30, you can help us reach our goal at any time by making a financial contribution; sharing our posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; or creating a Facebook fundraiser.