The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating its third manatee release this year from its Manatee Critical Care Center.
Lusia was released in Daytona Beach Thursday following her Aug. 22 rescue, when she was found floating on her left side. Wildlife officials said her injuries we consistent with a boat strike.
“When we received Lusia, we were guarded about her survival due to the extent of her injuries," said Craig Miller, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens curator of mammals, in an email to WJCT News.
She had a punctured lung, but the zoo's team was able to start supportive care right away and eventually alleviate the trapped air in her injured lung.
Lusia maintained a good appetite and behavior, which Miller said helped in her recovery.
"It’s great to finally release her, and we hope Lusia’s story reminds all of us boaters to remain aware of manatees and other marine life out on the water," he said.
Lusia's team believes she is about four years old due to her size. She weighed 713 pounds at the time of her release.
Her release is the 16th since the zoo opened its Manatee Critical Care Center in 2017. In total, the zoo has cared for 23 manatees since the center's opening.
Her release comes during Manatee Awareness Month, when boaters are reminded to slow down, follow posted speed limits and wear polarized sunglasses to help spot manatees.