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The Bishop Announces Nearly $550,000 in State Funding to Expand Manatee Rehabilitation Facilities

The Bishop Announces Nearly $550,000 in State Funding to Expand Manatee Rehabilitation Facilities

The Museum’s plan to quickly renovate an existing facility has the potential to increase Florida’s capacity to rehabilitate injured and sick manatees by 10%.

One of the rehabilitation pools onsite in Myakka City, FL, that The Bishop's Animal Care team plans to retrofit in order to rehabilitate and monitor more of Florida’s manatees.
Bradenton, Fla. – The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature announces it has secured $547,000 in state funding to expand its manatee care program, providing additional holding and acute care space in the statewide effort to rescue, rehabilitate, release, and monitor Florida’s manatees.
The Museum’s plan to lease, retrofit, and operate an existing facility in Myakka City, FL is part of a wider effort to assist as many manatees as possible and hopes are it will be operational before the end of the year. Through this grant, which was appropriated to The Bishop via the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the overall capacity of the statewide manatee care network could be increased by 10%, providing resources for both critical emergency care and short-term care of manatees.
These efforts are needed now more than ever in response to the Unusual Mortality Event (UME) affecting manatee populations, primarily on the east coast of Florida. A UME is defined by the Marine Mammal Protection Act as a significant die-off that demands immediate response. The current UME began in 2020 and continues to the present, making every effort to address the crisis more important than ever.
Additionally, The Bishop was recently approved for acute care status, which means that in addition to providing holding space for manatees that are not quite ready for return to the wild, they can now accept and provide treatment for rescued manatees in need of hospital care. While The Bishop has long been approved as a secondary holding facility, the authorization to provide acute care means that The Bishop will have the opportunity to make an even greater impact on alleviating the UME, being only one of five facilities federally authorized to treat sick, injured, or orphaned Florida manatees.
Another of the rehabilitation pools onsite in Myakka City, FL, that The Bishop's Animal Care team plans to retrofit in order to rehabilitate and monitor more of Florida’s manatees.
Hillary Spencer, CEO of The Bishop, shared, “The Myakka property and FWC funding are providing an opportunity for The Bishop not only to increase the number of manatees we can help, but also the way in which we help them. The work that Virginia Edmonds, our Director of Animal Care, the Animal Care team, and Museum veterinarian Dr. David Murphy are doing is impactful already, but this expansion will redefine The Bishop’s role in the animal care community.”
The state award of $547,000 is expected to cover the seed money for this significant renovation and its first year of operations. Roughly 50% of the funds will cover expenses related to the renovation and lease of the facility, with the other 50% covering new equipment, additional staffing costs, veterinary care, and other operating expenses.
The Bishop has been rehabilitating manatees since 1998 and was a founding member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 2001. The MRP is a cooperative of nonprofit, private, state, and federal entities that rescue, rehabilitate, and return manatees to the wild.
While the Myakka Facility will not be open to the public for viewing, at the Museum in downtown Bradenton, the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat holds 60,000 gallons of water for up to three manatees rescued from the wild after they became sick or injured. This exhibition was remodeled in 2021 to resemble a cypress spring and allows above and underwater viewing opportunities, offering guests information about the anatomy and life history of manatees, including the challenges they face in the wild.
Report a Sick, Injured, Dead, or Tagged Manatee
Please call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Toll-Free Number at 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922). Cellular phone customers: *FWC or #FWC
Please be prepared to answer the following questions:
  • What is the exact location of the animal?
  • Is the manatee alive or dead?
  • Is the manatee tagged?
  • How long have you been observing the manatee?
  • What is the approximate size of the manatee?
  • What is the location of the public boat ramp closest to the manatee?
  • Can you provide a contact number where you can be reached for further information?
The above information is the most important you can provide; however, any additional information will be helpful.
How to Help a Stranded Manatee
  • DO NOT RETURN THE MANATEE TO THE WATER!
  • Do not touch or feed the manatee.
  • Observe from a safe distance and keep other people away.
  • Note the manatee’s condition. Does it appear weak, skinny, or have open wounds?
  • Look for any obvious identification – tag or markings.
  • Determine the manatee’s exact location for accurate reporting.
  • Report the manatee using the above information.