A female manatee returned back to Florida's waters Wednesday after months of rehabilitation at the Jacksonville Zoo’s Manatee Critical Care Center, according to a news release.

The release said 3-year-old BriarRose was released in Cocoa, Florida after undergoing rehabilitation since March 14.

Her release was a partnership between the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

female manatee released back into Florida waters
BriarRose, 3, was released in Cocoa, Florida, after being cared for at the Jacksonville Zoo’s Manatee Critical Care Center since March 14.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

BriarRose weighed a whopping 873 pounds at the time of her return. This was her second stay at the Critical Care Center. She was initially rescued underweight in early 2018 at New Smyrna Beach after she became beached. 

She will be monitored via a satellite tag by CMARI to make sure she is healthy, readjusting well and utilizing the warm water throughout the winter. BriarRose is the 13th manatee released from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens since the opening of the Critical Care Center in 2017.

“It’s always a good day when we can return a manatee back to the wild,” said Craig Miller, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Curator of Mammals and leader of the Marine Mammal Response Team. “The successful release of BriarRose wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of many partners in the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership, including FWC, CMARI, and SeaWorld. This also means we now have more resources and space to care for additional rescued manatees during this busy winter.

Those who see an injured marine mammal should call the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 or dial *FWC on a mobile device.