Early in the morning on Wednesday, 8 March, 2017, a Caribbean manatee from Odense Zoo in Denmark arrived at Burgers’ Zoo in Arnhem, the Netherlands. As soon as there was sufficient daylight, the manatee—which weighs several hundred kilos—was carefully hoisted into its new pool by crane, transport case and all. The young female is 3.5 years old, and will eventually be moved to a brand-new enclosure in the Mangrove, together with the zoo’s two other manatees. The zoo’s new eco-display will open in the summer of 2017. The Danish manatee could no longer remain in Odense, as two other females there are pregnant and are expected to give birth soon.
The park’s most expensive diners
In the wild, Caribbean manatees mainly eat water plants and seagrasses. At Burgers’ Zoo, the manatees each consume an average of fifteen kilos of endives per day, supplemented by boiled vegetables (including beetroot and brussels sprouts), potatoes, and a few slices of bread. Like water plants, the heads of endive float on the surface. The massive mammals use their flippers to move the endive to their mouths, before pulling it under water and devouring it whole. Because endive is expensive, especially out of season, the Caribbean manatees are by far the most expensive residents to feed at the Arnhem zoo. Burgers’ Zoo is the only place to see manatees in the Netherlands.
A manatee enclosure with one-million litres of water
The world’s largest covered mangrove is currently under construction at Burgers’ Zoo. When the new eco-display is completed, the Caribbean manatee will be one of its most prominent residents. A total of one million litres of water will be available to the three Caribbean manatees—two females and one male. When Burgers’ Mangrove officially opens to the public in the summer of 2017, visitors will be able to admire the extraordinary mammals from extremely close-up, through an enormous window which will be 12 m wide and 1.5 m tall. The three animals will be moved from their current location in the Bush to the new Mangrove as soon as the new pool is finished.