TARPON SPRINGS (FOX 13) - After a three-month 'hospital' stay, a mother manatee and her calf are back in the gulf. This morning, Lowry Park Zoo staff released "Shamrock" and "Emerald" at Craig Park in Tarpon Springs.
The endangered manatees were rescued on the day before St. Patrick's Day, hence their Irish-themed names.
Shamrock, the mother, was hit by a boat and had a broken rib and collapsed lung. But after three months of care and rehab at the zoo's manatee hospital, she was ready to go.
Emerald wasn't injured, but she is still dependent on mom, which is why she had to come to the hospital, too.
Experts say they should feel right at home in the bayou.
"We do try to release the manatees in the area where they were rescued from because they are migratory. They came back here because we feel that Shamrock knows these warm water springs and that's where she needs to take her calf in the winter to show her where to go," explained the zoo's Jennifer Galbraith.
Over the years, Lowry Park Zoo has taken in 405 injured or sick manatees and has rehabbed and released 232 of them, including Shamrock and Emerald.