Rescued West African Manatee Calf
Receives Amazing Response

Davy Maganga, a staff member from Gabon, feeds Victor. (Photo courtesy Lucy Keith Diagne, Sea to Shore Alliance)
By Nancy Sadusky
Director, Online Communications, Save the Manatee Club

In June, we sent out a call for help to Save the Manatee Club supporters, letting them know about Victor, a West African manatee calf who had washed up on the shores of Mayumba in Gabon, Africa. Believed to be separated from his mother while swimming in the ocean, Victor was just 59 pounds when he was rescued in September 2010. His rescuers had done a wonderful job caring for Victor, but they were running short on funds.

“The response from Save the Manatee Club supporters was overwhelming,” said Courtney Edwards, Staff Biologist for Save the Manatee Club. “We received nearly $9,700 in supplies and monetary donations to help Victor.“ It wasn’t too long after the action alert went out that the Club started receiving packages from and Jeffers Pet. In total, 93 bags of ZOOlogic Milk Matrix formula, 128 bottles of vitamins and supplements, 25 packets of Pepto-Bismol, 21 bottles of Mylicon Infant’s Gas Relief, 10 jugs of canola oil, and a $40 gift certificate for Jeffers Pet were sent by generous Club members. “One shipment of the items for Victor has already been sent to Gabon through the U.S. Embassy, and there are more planned.” said Edwards.

Save the Manatee Club Staff Biologist Courtney Edwards with the supplies donated for Victor by generous supporters. (Photo by Nancy Sadusky, SMC.)
Lucy Keith Diagne, a biologist with Sea to Shore Alliance who is currently doing manatee research and conservation work in Gabon, reports that Victor is doing well. Although he had some difficulties at first, Victor is now gradually gaining weight and is currently up to 41 kilograms or about 90 pounds. Victor has also started to eat some native aquatic vegetation in addition to his regular milk formula, and it is hoped that he will be on a total vegetation diet within a few months. In addition, when Victor was stranded last September, he had several skin abrasions on his sides. After treatment by veterinarian Dr. Ken Cameron from the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Global Health Program, Victor’s skin is now fully healed. “Here in Gabon we are extremely grateful for the generous help from Save the Manatee Club supporters!” said Keith Diagne. “The supplies and donations for Victor ensure that we will be able to continue his care and feeding until we are able to release him back the wild.”

(l-r) Davy Maganga, Brice Louembet, and Junior Makanga help to measure Victor. (Photo courtesy Lucy Keith Diagne, Sea to Shore Alliance)
There has also been considerable assistance in helping to care for Victor from the local people in Gabon. Conservation Biologist Rich Parnell and multi-media designer Aimee Sanders have donated the use of their home on the lagoon outside Mayumba, Gabon, where Victor has been living. The house is a great asset, as it allows three staff from Gabon – Brice Louembet, Davy Maganga, and Junior Makanga – to stay there and care for Victor around the clock. As Victor soon outgrew his first enclosure, his caretakers and staff members from Gabon’s Mayumba National Park built a deeper enclosure for him, and the park staff have also helped with care for Victor. Furthermore, Jonathan Perez Rivera, a manatee research master’s student from Puerto Rico, spent four months in Gabon teaching Victor’s caretakers how to properly care for him.

In addition to putting out the alert to supporters, Save the Manatee Club has also sent 1,400 French coloring sheets and "Save the Manatee" stickers to Mayumba – one for every child in the village – to help raise awareness and promote the importance of protecting manatees like Victor in a region of Africa where manatees are still hunted.

“We appreciate the help of so many thoughtful people who recognize the opportunity both to help this individual manatee, and for scientists to learn about this elusive species and promote educational awareness for manatees in Gabon and throughout Africa,” said Keith Diagne.

Victor with Lucy Keith Diagne, a biologist with EcoHealth Alliance who is currently doing manatee research and conservation work in Gabon. (Photo courtesy Lucy Keith Diagne, Sea to Shore Alliance)

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