May 30th, 2009, Dolphin Discovery received a call from Ecosur to come to the assistance of a baby manatee discovered alone in a river in the state of Yucatan. He was only one or two days old and had been abandoned by his mother, without help there was no way he was going to survive. A team of veterinarians and marine biologists from Dolphin Discovery hurried to rescue this sweet creature and brought him to the facilities in Puerto Aventuras in a critical state. He was dubbed “Tuuch”, the Mayan word for “belly button” as his umbilical cord was still attached.
Tuuch was introduced to Julieta in Puerto Aventuras, a mature female manatee who was still nursing her one year old baby. Despite efforts to get Tuuch to nurse, Julieta could not produce enough milk and the team had to resort to bottle feeding the baby manatee to provide him the nutrients he so desperately needed. Over the next few months, the veterinary team monitored Tuuch, treating digestive issues and continuing with the bottle feeding. Despite his failure to grow over the first two months, the team did not give up, they gave him the highest levels of medical care, nutrition, stimulation and love, working with him 24 hours a day. He learned to socialize with the other manatees who accepted him into their little family and he learned how to play, he loves his toys! By September, he began eating lettuce and vegetables and a whole new world opened to this beautiful little guy. In January of 2010, he was able to permanently join the other manatees in their lagoon in Puerto Aventuras and he continued to improve and thrive. In February he was renamed “Robert” after head veterinarian Dr. Roberto Sanchez.
In November the Dolphin Discovery “Team Tuuch” was honoured by IMATA, receiving awards and recognition for their team work and conservation efforts with their rescued manatee. All of us at Dolphin Discovery are proud of the team, we are grateful for their expertise and tireless dedication in the rehabilitation of Robert.
One year later and Robert is doing great! He’s participating in encounters with our guests, eating well and continuing to grow. This week Dolphin Discovery threw a little party for Robert, bringing him a cake of lettuce and fruit, singing “Happy Birthday” and inviting local school children to join in the festivities. Local artist Allan Vazquez created a beautiful portrait of Robert and invited the children to add their handprints for posterity. We wish Robert a very happy birthday and many, many more!
Join us in Puerto Aventuras for our Sea Life Circle Manatee program and you can get a kiss from our dear Robert! Enjoy some time swimming with him, giving him a hug and share a little lettuce with him. He will welcome you with open flippers!
Please take a moment to enjoy this video dedicated to Tuuch/Robert, it’s a moving journey of love, dedication and hope….