Healed, homebound manatee is 1,000 pounds of adorable

Illusion, the brave manatee from Florida
Illusion, the brave manatee from Florida
Cincinnati Zoo

On March 5, 2010, a 978-pound manatee was rescued in Riviera Beach, Florida, after being struck by a boat and suffering major lacerations. Today, after months of rehabilitation in both the Miami Aquarium and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, the manatee, named Illusion, will be released in North Palm Beach to head back to her natural habitat. She is one of the lucky ones - Florida has found nearly 400 dead manatees in this year alone.

As part of the release process, zoo keepers in Cincinnati helped her practice moving into different tanks before she flies back to Florida. The eigth manatee to be rehabilitated and released by the Cincinnati Zoo, she leaves behind her roommates Wooten and Betsy, whose release has not yet been scheduled. 

More information on the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership can be found here