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Rescued Manatee Released in Fort Lauderdale (VIDEO)

Back in May, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue officials rescued a 7-foot, 400-pound juvenile female manatee that had gotten stuck in a pump station that ran from Broward Boulevard to the New River. On Wednesday, the manatee, named Piper, was finally released to back into the wild at George English Park located at 101 Bayview Dr., in Fort Lauderdale on the Middle River.

That area of water leads to the Intracoastal Waterway, which will help the manatee find her way back to the Florida Power & Light plant at Port Everglades, which is where most of the manatees in the area usually swim to.

An FWC rescue team along with Fort Lauderdale Fire and Rescue officials assisted in the manatee's release.

On May 12, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue responded to a call on the trapped animal and sent a crew of FLFR technical rescue team, along with battalion 2 units who were able to lift the manatee out using a crane. Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Tim Heiser says water was pumped out of the station so the animal could be dislodged. 

The plan had originally been to assess the manatee's health to determine if it could be returned to the wild right away, but after seeing that the animal had suffered some injuries, officials decided to send her to a rehabilitation center. Being trapped in the pump caused he manatee to  suffer some abrasions to its head and snout, and was taken to the Miami Seaquarium to be cared for until it was determined it could be released.

The Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue say they stayed in contact with Miami Seaquarium, getting updates on the animal's condition since she had been rescued.

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"Because it was a manatee and one of the cooler things we've done, we kept track with the Miami Seaquarium with how the manatee was doing," Captain Gregory May, of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, told the media Wednesday. "Our guys wanted to help with the release because it's the whole circle of life. We rescued the manatee, we kept tabs on the manatee and now we're going to be able to release the manatee. She's gone from 300 pound to 500 pounds. She's a fat little manatee now because they've nursed her back to health."

On Wednesday, the Seaquarium brought Piper to the park via a truck, and she was helped into the water by the same crew members who had rescued her in May.

Piper was let down onto a boat ramp where she eased into the water and eventually swam off, disappearing into the deep as her rescuers cheered. 

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