On April 22nd, four manatees were released at Quistococha Lagoon to celebrate Earth Day. These manatees were rescued as orphaned babies or calves three or four years ago and rehabilitated at the ACOBIA-DWAZOO “Amazonian Rescue Center (CREA)” in Iquitos, Peru.
The manatees ranged from five to six feet in length and weighed between 120-250 pounds. Initially, their diet at the rescue center was a milk formula, low in lactose and especially designed for manatees. When the calves reached 9-12 months of age, they were introduced for three months to a menu complemented with aquatic plants, after which time these aquatic herbivores were completely weaned.
The ACOBIA-DWAZOO Amazonian Rescue Center has four small ponds for babies and quarantine, two large ponds for juveniles and sub adults, and a very large pond for adults. The daily routine at the center consists of cleaning ponds, checking water quality, feeding the nursing babies, collecting vegetation to feed the older animals and providing educational tours to visitors.
Nauta, Yuri, Yanayacu and Sarito (three females and one male) were the manatees released. They were equipped with a transmitter placed in a belt attached to their tail peduncle (or waist). Each transmitter sends an audible signal to the receptors used by the biologists to track their movements in the lagoon.
This year the release was conducted by Yvan Vasquez Valera (Regional President of Loreto), Victor Isla (President of the Peruvian Congress), David Panduro (Director of PRODUCE-local agency for fisheries and aquatic mammals), authorities from IIAP (Peruvian Amazon Research Institute), ACOBIA – DWAZOO personnel, Daryl Richardson (DWA Director), Luis Eduardo “Zammy” Sandoval (DWA Senior Manatee Keeper) and Luis Sigler (DWA Conservation Biologist). The event was also attended by 200 local students who observed the activities and participated by releasing recyclable balloons with their names and a commitment for a better planet.
Kelly Tapayuri, ACOBIA-DWAZOO staff biologist, is conducting the field monitoring of the released manatees and her reports indicate all four are thriving very well in the lagoon — foraging aquatic vegetation and keeping close to each other. The ACOBIA – DWAZOO has 13 full-time staff.
The Quistococha Lagoon is located near the Quistococha Zoo and as a recreational destination, it is visited by a lot of people each year. The four released manatees will serve as ambassadors to help guests better understand the importance of conservation for endangered species — possible only with the participation of everyone showing respect for the environment and all living beings that share our planet.
This is the third annual Earth Day celebration in which the DWA has arranged for and participated in the release of Amazonian manatees (Trichchus inunguis) in Peru — for a total of twelve healthy animals!