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The Return of the Manatees! Singapore-Born Sea Cows Back in the Caribbean After a Century of Extinction

Aug 13, 2016 05:25 AM EDT
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Manatees have been endangered in the Caribbean for over a hundred years, but now efforts are being undertaken to get them back in their waters. The Singapore Zoo recently released two young manatees to the island region as part of a repopulation project for the endangered sea cows led by the Guadeloupe National Park.

According to a report from Phys.org, Kat and Junior were both born and bred in the Singapore Zoo but are reportedly doing fine even after they took a trip of about 34 hours and settled in their new home. They were released at the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin, which is a 15,000-hectare protected area.

"The first signs are positive," one of their caretakers of the sea cows informed reporters. "They are starting to interact with their carers and to feed and keep hydrated."

The gentle pair was chosen because of their close bond with each other and they've already reached sexual maturity, a report from VOA News revealed. Their ages aren't far apart with Kai being born on October 8, 2009, and Junior on February 2, 2010.

The successful arrival of Kai and Junior comes after a decade of efforts to repopulate the Caribbean with manatees. It was originally expected that Brazil will be sending the animals back in 2014, but the transfer did not push through. Eventually, the hope came from Singapore Zoo.

"We never thought we'd have to go that far for them," Herve Magnin, head of the heritage department at Guadeloupe National Park, said in a report from Phys Org.

It won't be just these two creatures in the Caribbean though. In the next five years, 13 other manatees will be joining Kai and Junior in Guadaloupe. Ten of the sea cows scheduled to arrive are female and any offspring of the group are going to be released into the wild.

The West Indian manatee has been extinct in Guadaloupe for about a hundred years because of hunting, the VOA News revealed. The animal is also listed as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

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