Feeding the Orphan 

The Omacha Foundation
Colombia, South America

is caring for a male Amazonian manatee calf orphan and they need your help. Updates are posted as they are sent to me. Latest news is at top of page. Please respond directly to Timothy Ross and Sarita Kendall at:


Male Amazonian Manatee Calf


From Sarita Kendall, The Omacha Foundation
Leticia, Colombia, 20th February 2002

On February 8th 2002 Airuwe, an Amazonian manatee aged 3 years 8 months, was returned to the wild by the Omacha Foundation and the community of Puerto Nariño. Airuwe was released in the Tarapoto lake system in the Colombian Amazon, close to well-established manatee feeding areas. He was captured in a net near Puerto Nariño in mid 1998 and wounded by fishermen, then transferred to the Omacha Foundation. The Foundation fed, cared for and rehabilitated Airuwe with a view to reintroduction and he became the focus of a manatee conservation campaign in the region.

Airuwe was examined by Marcia Picanco, a Brazilian veterinarian, before release and found to be in good health. He was fitted with a belt-mounted transmitter donated by the Instituto Mamirauá (Brazil) and is being tracked by a team of local fishermen and former manatee hunters. During the first ten days after release he moved back and forth through channels in the flooded forest to nearby lakes, returning close to the release point. Freshly chewed aquatic grasses and plants were found near his main resting place.

We would like to thank all the people who have helped us with the difficult but satisfying task of bringing up and reintroducing an Amazonian manatee, in particular veterinarians Greg Bossart and Marcia Picanco, Miriam Marmontel of the Instituto Mamirauá, Jim Reid and Bob Bonde of the Sirenia Project, Salud Colpatria, the Columbus Zoo, Save the Manatee Club, Corpoamazonia (Leticia), Fauna and Flora International, the British Embassy Bogotá, Jim Valade, Antonio Mignucci, Ruby Montoya, Timothy Ross and Elizabeth Kendall. The rehabilitation and release of Airuwe would have been impossible without the collaboration of so many in the Puerto Nariño area, especially Gonzaga Muñoz, Luis Muñoz, Zoe Velosa, Alberto Lozada, Sara Bennet, Mauricio Laureano, Geronimo Laureano, Angel Peña, Casimiro Ahué, Misael Ahué, Demetrio Silva, Pedro Ahué, Lucio Ahuanari, Filandro Paima and all the other fishermen who supported us in this venture.

28 September 2000

From: Sarita Kendall
Date: Thursday, September 28, 2000 11:43 AM
Airuwe is now weaned and living in a small artificial lake behind the Omacha field station. He is over 2 metres long and 2 yrs 3 months old, eating lots of water hyacinth and floating pasture. We are evaluting his behaviour, especially in relation to humans, and have incorporated local manatee hunters into this process so that it will be a joint decision when and where to return him to the wild.
All the best,
Sarita Kendall

3 May 1999

From: Sarita Kendall
Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 21:06:52 -0500

Airuwe is in good shape - that is, very round. He measures about 140cm and weighs nearly 60 kilos. He's in the pool alongside the field station, built with funding from Save the Manatee Club. A student has started her thesis on behaviour with him. He is being very slow to eat solid food - still takes very little in but spends a great deal of time munching the grasses.

There is another calf in Leticia now, a very small female at a half way holding station managed by the military. We are advising them on feeding, care etc.

Colombia is in dire financial straits so if you have any ideas on funding, they'd be gratefully received.

Best wishes,

11 Nov 1998

From: Sarita Kendall
"...Thanks for your message re the web site -- no, we haven't had anything for the last couple of months. I have been able to get some help with the food etc. for Airuwe and Save the Manatee Club has given us funding for a small pool which we're building. Airuwe is now 117cm long on the curve and weighs 28kilos; he is doing very well..."

1 Nov 1998

From: Timothy Ross
"I talked to Sarita last week by phone -- Airuwé is eating more, approx, 1,200cc per feed, gaining weight, girth and length quite satisfactorily, and is now so heavy that Sarita can scarcely pick him up. Samples tested in the Miami Seaquarium lab showed normal blood work. Behaviorally, he displays interest in feed times, because he likes the food or the attention, or both..."

7 Sep 1998

From: Sarita Kendall, Omacha Foundation
"Enclosed are pix of Airuwé, the manatee calf. The main point at the moment is to ensure that he gains weight, and your donation will help towards that goal. Otherwise he's going fine... Meanwhile, many thanks..."

28 Aug 1998

From: Sarita Kendall, Omacha Foundation
"many many thanks for your donation -- it will buy milk for the manatee, which is what he needs most at the moment. A specialist vet from the Miami Seaquarium (Greg Bossart) came to see him last week-end and found him generally OK but low in weight so we have to devote our efforts to giving him as many feeds as possible a day and putting on the pounds. Then eventually we plan to free him. At the moment he is the centre of attention in the Amazon community and all the children are able to see their first live manatee. He has three slaves looking after him and seems to enjoy life. Once again, thank you for contributing...
With very best wishes,
Sarita Kendall, Fundacion Omacha"


Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998 11:04:35 -0400
From: Timothy Ross
Subject: manatees
To: Caryn Self Sullivan

Many thanks -- if you would like to add that the manatee calf is gaining weight adequately, and receives 4 to 5 bottle feeds a day, trying to vary the person feeding so that he does not develop individual human attachments which could impede his eventual return to a wild manatee group. Best,

Original call for help reposted from Marmam:

My name is Ruby Montoya. I am writing on behalf of The Omacha Foundation, a non-profit organization based on Colombia. The Omacha Foundation work on conservation, education and research of marine mammal in the Amazon. They have an emergency. The Foundation Omacha rescued two young Amazonian manatees.

The first animal was rescued in July 2. The Caribbean Stranding Network immediately sent a rehabilitation protocol. The animal is a male, with 107 cm of length and approximately 20 kg of weight. Currently the animal is improving, he is receiving 800 ml of milk preparation every day and he increased 2.5 pounds during the last week of July. The second animal was recently rescued on July 30th in the border with Peru, and it is in very bad condition. The animal looks malnourished and has "fungal-like" infections all over its body.

The Foundation Omacha does not have a pool or any rehabilitation equipment. They are taking care of the manatees in a small earthen pond. Foundation members need wets suits (even used or old ones) to properly care for the animals. They are running out of funds for milk and medicines to take care of the animals. Any help, medicines, money, or equipment donation (even if it is used and old) would be immensely appreciated.

You may contact Timothy, Omacha Foundation, in Bogota for further details at timothy@latino.net.co

Thank you very much for your help in this matter,

Sincerely, Ruby Montoya

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