The first manatee rehabilitation center in Brevard County is set to be built as the Brevard Zoo expands its effort to rescue and rehabilitate the aquatic mammals.

Zoo officials hope to provide immediate care to manatee in the county as well as expand bed space at other facilities in the state.

This rehabilitation center is made possible by a grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The zoo recently received permitting, grant funding and donations to establish manatee rehabilitation facilities.

While there are plans to create a rehabilitation center at the future Aquarium and Conservation Center, the efforts begin by building three tanks in behind-the-scenes areas of the zoo.

These initial facilities will be able to care for stable, non-critical manatee patients in need of additional monitoring, weight gain or better weather conditions for release. The goal for all the manatee will be for eventual release back into their native range.

The zoo’s veterinary staff already are working with other facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership to learn more about manatee care. The zoo’s two veterinarians, Dr. Trevor Zachariah and Dr. Kyle Donnelly, will also attend continuing education classes to learn more about this species. VV