A pregnant manatee who wandered into dangerously chilly waters a thousand miles from home is heading back to Florida.
The adventurous sea cow was rescued off the coast of Falmouth, Massachusetts, just before the water temperatures dipped to a potentially fatal 67 degrees. The International Fund for Animal Welfare took the 800-pound mammal to a heated rehabilitation pool at nearby Mystic Aquarium, where she’ll wait to be transported to her native habitat of Florida.
During a routine ultrasound, veterinarians discovered the manatee they dubbed “Washburn” was between four and five months pregnant. The gestation period for a manatee is about a year. To reduce stress, the aquarium doesn’t have the endangered animal on display while she waits to head back to Florida.
Dale Wolbrink, a spokeswoman for the aquarium, said Mystic is in talks with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to transport Washburn out of state. She will probably travel sometime in the next week or two.
“We’d really rather get her back to warmer weather sooner rather than later,” Wolbrink said.
Washburn is the first manatee at Mystic Aquarium, and although she isn’t on display, her “Manatee Monday” appearances on the aquarium’s Facebook gained her a loyal fan base.
“MORE MANATEE POSTS!! WE LOVE THE MANATEE!!” one excited woman commented.