News from Zoos
Manatees released in Biscayne Bay
Officials released two endangered West Indian manatees into Biscayne Bay on February 5, 2002 after the manatees
spent nine months at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The manatees were brought to the zoo March 6, 2001 as part
of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's rehabilitation and recovery program. The two were then sent to SeaWorld
Orlando on December 13, 2001. They had come to Columbus via SeaWorld, one of seven critical care facilities for
manatees in Florida.
Brooks, two-years old, was found in April 1999 near docks about 50 miles south of Daytona Beach, Florida.
When the orphaned calf arrived at the zoo, he was seven feet long and weighed 550 pounds. He is now eight feet, six
inches long and weighs more than 800 pounds.
Trident, three-years old, was found in February 2000 about 60 miles north of Palm Beach, Florida. He was
suffering from frostbite because he didn't migrate to warmer waters. Trident was also seven feet long when he
arrived and weighed 600 pounds. He is now more than seven feet, six inches long and weighs more than 800 pounds.
It is the second time the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has returned a manatee to the wild. In February 2000,
Comet, an orphaned manatee, was released at Blue Springs State Park in Florida. [Source: Associated Press]
Spectacular Falkland Islands with Vast Penguin and Albatross Colonies Given to WCS
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which operates several AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums in the New
York City area, announced on March 5, 2002 that New York philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, a member of the
WCS Board of Trustees, had donated two spectacular, uninhabited islands in the south Atlantic to the Society. The
islands, part of the Falklands archipelago, are home to huge numbers of penguins, albatrosses, and other rare wildlife.
Called Steeple Jason and Grand Jason, the islands lie about 250 miles east of Argentina on the edge of the
continental shelf. They support not only large populations of penguins (rockhopper, gentoo, Magellanic) and black-browed albatrosses, but also Southern giant petrel, Falklands skua, and one of the worlds rarest birds-of-prey, the
johnny rook (a.k.a. striated caracara).
Steeple Jason Island is over five miles long and nearly a mile across at its widest point. Grand Jason Island is
nearly seven miles long and approximately two miles across. They are among the westernmost islands in the Falklands
chain. Steeple Jasons nesting population of more than 150,000 pairs of black-browed albatrosses is considered the
largest in the world.
Working in conjunction with the Falkland Islands government and Falklands Conservation, a local environ-mental
organization, WCS plans to construct a research station on one of the islands to gain a better understanding of
the native animal species. Mr. Steinhardt will give WCS $425,000 to build the research station, to be named the Judy
and Michael Steinhardt Conservation Station, and to underwrite three years of research programs.
According to WCS Senior Conservationist Dr. William Conway, who recently returned from wildlife surveys of
the Jasons, their vast bird colonies represent one of the great wildlife spectacles left on earth, comparable to the
wildebeest migration of the Serengeti and to the caribou migration of the Arctic.
The Falkland Islands have some of the last great masses of birds and the Jasons colonies are particularly
spectacular, he said. Its truly awe-inspiring. It is the sort of thing that makes one feel small.
But the islands are more than just two isolated jewels. Long-term WCS research in neighboring Patagonia shows that
the Jasons are part of a much larger, dynamic ecosystem, vital to everything from elephant seals to penguins.
The Jason Islands are one piece of an ecosystem-wide puzzle that the Wildlife Conservation Society has been
working on since the 1960s, said Dr. Andrew Taber, WCSs director for Latin America Programs. The gift of the
islands allows us to establish another conservation beachhead to further understand the natural systems that impact
wildlife of the region. [Source: Wildlife Conservation Society]