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Baby sensation at the Wroclaw zoo

2019-06-21
Baby sensation at the Wroclaw zoo

The second manatee born in Poland is a female. This information is important for conservation facilities run by zoological gardens.

There are only 20 such facilities in the world, and their stock is predominantly male.  Besides, manatees from Wrocław may have a chance to live in the natural environment, as preparations for their reintroduction in Guadeloupe are under way.

Manatees are one of the rarest bred in conservation centers. A birth of each calf gets us closer to saving these docile creatures from extinction, and calls for a celebration. Especially when a female is born - there are 39 females and 48 males living in conservation facilities.

In Wroclaw, manatees have been living since October 2014, when the twin brothers - Armstrong and Gumle - were transferred to the Afrykarium from Danish Odense. Nearly 3 years later we found partners for the boys. In September 2017 the girls Ling and Abel, traveled 9 thousand kilometers from Singapore to Wrocław. Their transportation was the most important event of this type for European zoos in the last two decades. The logistics was a challenge, but both females arrived safely to their new home.

In November 2017 it was confirmed that one of the females was pregnant. The crew had to prepare for the oncoming, exciting event. They consulted experienced care givers form other facilities to learn about rearing manatee calves.  An underwater pen was built and special milk formula was ordered, in case the mother wasn’t nursing the baby. We were ready to go. The baby was born on March 3, 2018. Lavia is the first manatee born in Poland, and her name is a short for Wratislavia.

 The youngest female was born on Saturday, 8 June 2019. She was 123 cm and 28 kg, and was longer and heavier than her sister Lavia at birth.

- At the moment the mother is not nursing, so we had to step in. The baby gets special milk formula for manatees, which we import from Australia. We feed her three times a day, and will continue to do so for about 6 months.  Meanwhile, in about a month, we will introduce solid food. - says Dominik Szoka, animal keeper from the Wroclaw zoo.
Baby manatee Baby manatee Baby manatee

It is also worth mentioning, that the European population of manatees (including ours) is a part of a reintroduction project, and in the future will augment the wild population living near Guadeloupe.

- In their natural environment the situation is difficult for manatees. They disappeared from many places they used to inhabit in the past. Our manatees represent the species originating from the Caribbean, and there they’re almost extinct. That is why we are happy there is a chance that we will start sending manatees to Guadeloupe, where preparations for the reintroduction of this species are in progress. This means that our – Wrocław born, Polish manatees - will live somewhere between Venezuela and the Dominican Republic - says Radosław Ratajszczak, the president of the Wrocław zoo. - In addition, we are funding a research and conservation project for African manatees. The first stage of this project is counting the manatees in their habitat, to assess the risk of extinction of this species. I must point out that the first results are very promising.

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