Thousands watched with bated breath Wednesday as rescue efforts worked to free a manatee trapped in an Ortega storm drain.
That manatee, fondly named 'Piper' by social media, is at SeaWorld in Orlando Thursday night on the road to recovery - or should that be pool to recovery?
"We gave her some fluids and a single injection last night," says Dr. Stacey DiRocco, her veterinarian. "And then we lowered her into the pool to get a better idea of what she looked like in water. She was a little weak and a little bit subdued."
The 950-lb. manatee was found trapped in the storm drain and it took rescue workers several hours to get her out and transport her for treatment.
"She was much more active, she was stronger, swimming on her own," says DiRocco. "We did some diagnostics and we did a complete blood panel on her today and we did see some abnormalities."
But DiRocco says it's not surprising this is her state given the ordeal Piper went through. The manatee remains in critical car, but the good news is she's already starting to eat.
"She didn't want to seat any lettuce last night, but we still want to make sure it's offered and it's here if she wants it," says Nicholas Ricci, senior animal care specialist. "Today, we saw her nibbling and becoming more comfortable with her surroundings - so eating a little bit here and there - it was a great sign."
Ricci says it's a sign she could recover soon.
"I can't stress how much it means to us here at SeaWorld to be able to partner with people that care about the animals as much as we are," he says. "It's an amazing partnership."