Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is one of three federally permitted manatee critical care facilities in the state of Florida for rehabilitation of the endangered Florida Manatee (Trichechus manatus ssp. latirostris). Determining the relationship between causes of admittance and release outcomes will help to facilitate management practices to improve rehabilitation rates thereby enhancing conservation efforts, allocating funds in more appropriate areas, and improving medical therapies. The database used to determine these relationships consisted of 322 manatees from 1991 through March 2014. Causes of admittance, mortality rates, length of stay rates, and location of rescue were analyzed. Causes of admittance included watercraft collisions, natural causes (consisting of cold stress, red tide outbreaks, and essentially anything non-human related), entanglement, entrapment, captive born, mothers of rescued calves, calves of rescued mothers, human, and other. Locations of rescue surrounding Florida included the southwest, southeast, northwest, northeast, Crystal River, and east coast. The admitted population was primarily from the southwest and northwest and was stratified by age and gender. The gender difference was relatively equivocal while the adults heavily outnumbered the calves making the adult population the primary focus. Watercraft collisions and natural causes heavily outnumbered the other categories of admittance making them the primary focus of causes. Watercraft collisions are more likely to occur during the summer months whereas natural causes of admittance are more likely to occur during the winter months. Outcomes of mortality are more likely to result with watercraft collisions than natural causes (OR: 5.7 95% CI: [3.1, 10.4] p < 0.0005). Gender had no influence on outcomes. Those that were released had an increased length of stay compared to those who were not re-released; however, the length of stay for these animals has been declining. Overall, trends indicated an expectation for the annual mortality rates to decline despite an expectation for annual admittance rates to increase. Establishing this baseline of information enables the ability to truly compare and contrast different treatment modalities. It is recommended to continue updating this data while adding in medical parameters such as PE findings, blood profiles, and any ancillary diagnostics. It is also recommended to establish relationships with the other two federally permitted critical care facilities to compare and contrast efforts.
The authors would like to thank Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo for sharing their data in the interest of establishing baseline information for the conservation efforts of their program.
* Presenting author