Rescued manatees returned to Indian River Lagoon

FOX 35 News at 5 p.m.

- Officials with SeaWorld Orlando on Tuesday released rehabilitated manatees back into the wild.   Two manatees were transported inside a SeaWorld Orlando box truck to the Indian River Lagoon, the same place where they both nearly died months earlier.

"One was an orphaned calf that came in at a little over 100 pounds and bottle fed around the clock," explained SeaWorld's Randy Runnels.  Now, close to 700 pounds, the manatee known as Shirley is in excellent health. 

The other manatee, named Quincentariot, is particularly special to SeaWorld as it is the 500th manatee they have rescued. 

With the help of state and federal protection laws, officials say the manatee population has grown to 6,000 statewide, up from several hundred in 1967 -- improvement so significant, the state is in the process of removing manatees from the endangered species list.
 
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