On Saturday, August 27th, DHL will provide air and ground transportation support to deliver four-year-old Rodeo and ten-year-old Stoneman to Florida for the start of their journey back to the wild. Both Rodeo and Stoneman are veterans of air travel via DHL. The manatees were transported via DHL from Florida to their current home at the Cincinnati Zoo's Manatee Springs exhibit in September 2004 and April 1999, respectively.
The manatees are being transported to their native Florida as part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program, which coordinates the care of injured, sick or orphaned manatees at facilities across the country in preparation for their release back into the wild. "DHL is honored to play a role in rescuing endangered animals and in their return to the wild," says Joe Collopy, director of Network Capacity Utilization for DHL. "The DHL team has gone over every detail of the transport to ensure that Rodeo and Stoneman receive VIP treatment all the way home."
Collopy leads the DHL team responsible for coordinating animal shipments for zoos and other institutions, including all manatee shipments. More than 20 DHL personnel have been involved in researching and planning for the move, working closely with the Cincinnati Zoo, SeaWorld Orlando, and their animal experts to plan every aspect of the manatee shipment, managing container specifications, variable manatee weights, and in-flight temperature, food and access requirements.
Stoneman, a 900-pound male born at the Miami Seaquarium in Miami, Fla., was one of the Cincinnati Zoo's early manatee residents. He was transported by DHL from his birthplace to the Cincinnati Zoo with the opening of the Zoo's Manatee Springs exhibit in 1999. Rodeo is a 500-pound male manatee rescued in May 2004 off Merritt island, Florida after becoming entangled in a crab trap and fishing line. Rodeo spent three months recovering from the injury at SeaWorld Orlando before he was transported to the Cincinnati Zoo by DHL in September 2004 to finish rehabilitation.
Early on Saturday August 27th, a caravan of DHL vehicles will transport Rodeo and Stoneman to the DHL hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport for the two-hour flight to Orlando International Airport. The manatees will travel in two separate specially-designed marine mammal containers which will provide their travel companions -- Cincinnati Zoo Senior Veterinarian Dr. Mark Campbell and Manatee Keeper Jamey Vogel -- with easy access to monitor the manatees' vital signs and maintain surface moisture.
When the manatees arrive in Orlando, SeaWorld animal experts will administer comprehensive physicals of both mammals, after which they will be located in a pool with three other rescued manatees.
Stoneman is scheduled to be released to the wild this winter and Rodeo is scheduled to be released winter 2006. The exact release dates will be determined once they reach their ideal weight and have been given a clean bill of health.
While the latest surveys indicate that approximately 3,100 endangered manatees inhabit the coastal and inland waters of Florida, the second highest population count since 1991, the number of known deaths continues to increase. "It is through partnerships like this that wildlife conservation programs become success stories; and the Cincinnati Zoo is proud to be an integral part of the effort to save one of North America's endangered animals," says Dr. Terri Roth, Vice President of Animal Sciences for the Cincinnati Zoo.
Separately, on the morning of Sunday, August 28th, DHL will transport two larger manatees currently residing at SeaWorld San Diego from Los Angeles International Airport to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. As the newest residents of the Cincinnati Zoo, thirteen-year-old Slip and sixteen-year-old Lil' Joe will contribute to the manatee program's long-term captive release study. Once medically cleared the manatees will be priority candidates for release back into the wild.
For more information on DHL, please visit www.dhl.com.
Report compiled by Clyde Witt, executive editor