A male West African sea cow was born in Hengqin New Area on May 8, the first such birth in captivity in China. The calf is in good condition and expected to appear in public around June 1, according to a Chimelong Ocean Kingdom spokesperson.
The manatee measured 116 cm in length (3.8 ft) and weighed about 25.4 kg (54 pounds) at birth. Its arrival extends to six the size of the aquarium's manatee family of three female and two male adults.
Baby manatee at Chimelong
West African manatees are the only herbivorous marine mammal in the world. They inhabit much of the western region of Africa such as the Niger River estuary. Gray in color, they have wrinkled skin on which there is often a growth of algae and other tiny organisms. The species is vulnerable due to poaching of its meat, oil, bones, and skin, and was named into the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2012.
On average, a female manatee gets pregnant every three to five years, giving birth to one cub at a time. Extensive care and nursing are required for the gestation of 11 to 13 months and is followed by breastfeeding, according to a Chimelong staffer.
Deep mother-baby bonding
Mother eats fruit to ensure adequate milk. [Photos by Zhu Xi / Zhuhai Daily]