橫琴誌 | HENGQIN RECORD

Photo by Chimelong Ocean Kingdom

African manatee cub born in Hengqin

A male African manatee cub has been born at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Hengqin.

According to the theme park, the newborn manatee measured 116 centimeters in length and weighed 25.4 kilograms at birth – equivalent to the average human six-year-old. The entire birth took about 1.5 hours and went smoothly.

The newborn drinks milk every 15 minutes and around 60 to 70 times a day, while his mother eats 40 kilograms of fruit and vegetables each day.

The African manatee, also known as the West African manatee or sea cow, is the only herbivorous marine mammal in existence. The species inhabits much of the western region of Africa from Senegal to Angola, measuring up to 4.5 meters in length and weighing between 200 and 500 kilograms when fully grown.

However, it is also vulnerable due to poaching for its meat, oil, bones and skin and was named on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species in 2012.

On average, a female manatee can bear young every three to five years and usually gives birth to just a single calf each time. Gestation lasts about 13 months and is followed by breastfeeding.

The newborn is China’s first tank-born manatee and its arrival extends to six the size of the aquarium’s manatee family, which includes three female and two male adults.

Chimelong Ocean Kingdom says it has a strong focus on breeding, research and conservation of the world’s rare ocean and polar animals, having successfully bred more than 24,000 animals.

The manatee cub is expected to be unveiled to the public in early June.

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