The baby manatee, 4B, which was rescued off the shore of West Bay in August, 2006, has died at Disney’s EPCOT Living Seas facility in Florida.
Andrea Finger, Disney’s media relations manager, confirmed that 4B passed away in May 2010. She said that a necropsy was carried out, but it came back as inconclusive.
4B had originally been living at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, where it was hoped that he would one day be released back into the wild. The news of 4B’s passing came to light when Lowry Park was contacted by the Caymanian Compass this month.
Lowry Park is one of three rehabilitation facilities for manatees and employs trained manatee experts and veterinarians. More than 133 manatees have been taken to its facilities, and some 70 of these have been released back into the wild.
The zoo’s director of public relations, Rachel Nelson, said 4B left Lowry in January 2010 “….due to a record high patient count for a record cold winter. He was transferred to the South Florida Museum for housing, prior to travelling to EPCOT.”
Weighing in at 53 lbs, 4B was just two week’s old and severely dehydrated when he was found in the shallows by Mark Bothwell, Barry Bush, Brett Burell and Craig Burke.
An Antillean manatee and not native to Cayman, it is believed his mother became lost in a storm and gave birth to 4B in Cayman’s waters, although no one knows how he became separated from her. Antillean Manatees are endangered and have a patchy distribution throughout the Caribbean; small colonies can be found in both Jamaica and Cuba.
A team of volunteers rallied round to help rescue 4B – who became somewhat of a celebrity – in an operation that touched the heart of Cayman’s community.
The Department of Environment put out a call for volunteers to help feed 4B every three hours with a re-hydrating fluid, with volunteers rubbing his tummy on a regular basis to help relieve him of gas.
Requiring specialist care – manatees usually nurse for up to two years – 4B was air-lifted on a Lear Jet 25, provided by Trinity Air Ambulance, to Florida, where he was then taken on a short trip by road to Lowry. A host of companies stepped up to make the flight possible, donating everything from fuel to towels.
His rescue attracted wide media coverage too, with South Florida’s ABC News 10 covering the story and even broadcasting an appeal to help with the ongoing costs of 4B’s care.
“We were very sorry to hear that 4B the manatee died before he could be released,” Janice Blumenthal, Department of Environment research officer, said. “I hope that all those who helped rescue and care for him do not feel that their efforts were diminished by this sad news. It was incredible to see how the community came together to rescue one little baby manatee. He was an ambassador for what can be accomplished together. Sad outcomes such as this are always possible in animal rescue but we’re very grateful to everyone who helped give him the best possible chance.”
“It was incredible to see how the community came together to rescue one little baby manatee.” Janice Blumenthal, Department of Environment research officer.