American manatee (Trichechus manatus) is a remarkable mammal that in the course of evolution came out of the water only to return to it. Its uniqueness is also highlighted by the order in the system to which it belongs – the sirenian. The manatees inhabit the coastal areas of the western Atlantic, from Florida to northern Brazil as well as the Amazon and Orinoco basins.
They are one of the larger animals - adults attain a length of up to 4.5 metres and a weight up to 900 kg.
They are slow, majestically moving animals that never come ashore. Manatees are the only exclusively herbivorous marine mammals. Remnant of their terrestrial life are three kind of nails on the front fins, a vestige of the hooves. What is interesting, they are genetically closer to elephants than to whales!
All manatee subspecies are vulnerable to extinction owing to their biological characteristics – among others, high sensitivity to changes in ambient temperature and reproductive system (the female gives birth to one calf every two years) and, unfortunately, due to human activity, mainly because of deaths under motorboats engines.
This species is represented in our Zoo by twin brothers - Armstrong and Gumle, who came to us from Odense Zoo, Denmark. Initially we thought that Gumle was the weaker and less “cunning”, but we were to be proven wrong! During medical training, it turned out that Gumle was the first, effortlessly, not only to surface out of the water, but also could rest on the footbridge and eat from the hand of the keeper. This makes it possible, without a need to go into the water, to check the health of the manatees - the skin on the head, mouth, nose, tongue, and teeth.
Armstrong has been “taken in” by a Polish enterprise, Piotr i Paweł - a supermarket on Krakowska Street.
Arrival of Armstrong to Wrocław - October 2014.