Name the manatee: Columbus Zoo has 4 choices available; vote by June 22

Photo by Grahm S. Jones/The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium The yet-to-be named female manatee has been adopted by this group of manatees at the Columbus Zoo after the young calf lost her mother in Florida. The public will get an opportunity to vote on a name for the baby while she is rehabilitated in Ohio.

While the manatee is not native to the waters of Ohio, the chance to see them up close and personal is as close as the Columbus Zoo.

Zoo officials released information about a female calf that was orphaned in Florida in February and has asked the public to help give the young manatee a name. The announcement coincides with World Oceans Day, which focuses on raising awareness about preserving and protecting this vital ecosystem that benefits both humans and wildlife, and is sponsored in part by Kroger.

“We are committed to the rehabilitation of manatees in need of our care, and we also recognize how important it is to raise awareness about this species so we can make a positive difference for their future,” said Columbus Zoo President/CEO Tom Stalf. “As the rivers in Ohio eventually make their way to the ocean, our actions right here in our own backyard play a vital role in keeping ecosystems healthy for manatees and other species.”

The young calf was rescued, along with her mother, on Feb. 8, off the coast of Florida. When rescuers discovered them, they found that the calf was showing signs of cold stress and her mother was negatively buoyant. Just two days after their rescue, the calf’s mother succumbed to her serious injuries, leaving the female calf an orphan. The calf began to build up her strength while in the care of a team of experts at SeaWorld Orlando. Once she had stabilized, she and a young male calf named Heavy Falcon, who had also been rescued as an orphan, were transferred to the Columbus Zoo in April to continue their rehabilitation journeys before their eventual release in Florida waters. The threatened Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality, including exposure to red tide, cold stress, disease, boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.

The zoo explained that Heavy Falcon received his name as a nod to the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch that took place on Feb. 6, the same day he was rescued. The public is urged to vote on one of four names that best suits the young female — the animal care team notes that she is more shy and cautious than some of the other manatees and they especially love her sweet demeanor.

Voting will take place on the zoo’s website, www.columbuszoo.com, through June 22 and the winning name will be announced June 25.

“When this young manatee is strong enough to return to Florida waters, we are proud that she will carry with her a name that demonstrates the important connection between her native range and our community,” Stalf said.

The options are:

¯ Carmen — A nod to “Carmen Ohio,” The Ohio State University alma mater. Rooted in rich tradition, the song, which means “Song of Ohio” in Latin, is the oldest school song still used by the university and highlights — through time and change — the strong bonds of friendship.

¯ Scioto — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is nestled along the Scioto River. The river stretches 231 miles in length, and early settlers often used the body of water for transportation. More recently, restoration efforts have been initiated to reduce pollution in the river and result in healthier water for humans and wildlife. The Scioto River flows into the Olentangy River and meets the Ohio River, which subsequently flows into the Mississippi River — leading to the Gulf of Mexico, where manatees can be found. This connection is reminder of how actions we take in Ohio can make a positive impact for the future of manatees and their habitats.

¯ Trillium: Trillium grandiflorum can be found in all 88 counties in Ohio and was adopted as Ohio’s state wildflower in 1987. These delicate flowers blossom around the time this young manatee arrived at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

¯ Sloopy: Written in 1965, “Hang on Sloopy” by the McCoys is the state rock song of Ohio — the only state to have an official rock song. After already facing many challenges in her young life, this rescued manatee has demonstrated resilience and her will to “hang on” in order to overcome the odds-and to fight for her species’ future.

Local residents weighed in on the interesting selection of names, some with whimsy, others with reservations.

“If I had a pet manatee, I’d name it Sloopy,” offered Kevin Paskawych, of Marietta. “That seems like a very ‘manatee’ name.”

Cody Henderhan, an Ohio State University graduate and animal lover who splits his time between Marietta and Columbus, offered a more subtle comment.

“Gross. None of those,” he joked.

The female calf is the 29th manatee to be rehabilitated at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium since the Zoo’s involvement in the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership began in 2001. As part of the MRP, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium serves as a second-stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

The MRP is a cooperative group of nonprofit, private, state and federal entities who work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at www.wildtracks.org. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was the first program partner outside of the state of Florida and is one of only two facilities outside of Florida to care for manatees.

Name the

manatee

¯ The four choices are Carmen, Scioto, Trillium and Sloopy.

¯ Through June 22, the public can vote once every 24 hours on the zoo’s website, www.columbuszoo.org.

¯ The winning name will be announced on the website and through the zoo’s social media on June 25.

¯ To follow manatees currently being tracked, visit www.wildtracks.org.

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