Behind the Scenes banner

Susan moments before her release.

On Wednesday morning, a group of Zoo employees and volunteers assisted Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and SeaWorld Orlando in releasing a rehabilitated manatee named Susan.

This manatee was brought to SeaWorld in October after she was found with boat strike wounds in Cocoa Beach. This wasn’t Susan’s first stint in rehab, though—she was also a SeaWorld patient in the 1990s! Susan is believed to be at least 40 years old.

SeaWorld personnel transported Susan in a specialized truck to the release site in Port Saint John. Heavy-duty straps were placed under her body so she could be carried to the edge of a boat ramp. An FWC manatee expert captured measurements; used washable, nontoxic paint to highlight the markings on Susan’s body for easier identification; and took a series of prerelease photos.

It was finally time for the big moment! The release team used a stretcher to carry Susan into the water, then watched her swim off into the Indian River Lagoon.

You can help keep these sea cows safe by responsibly disposing of your fishing gear, keeping your distance when you encounter manatees, and heeding laws and posted notices while boating. If you spot an injured, distressed or dead manatee, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.