Florida Aquarium manatee dies after sustaining life-threatening injuries from mating with sibling
- Hugh, a 38-year-old manatee, sadly passed away in April at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.
- Now officials have clarified that Hugh died after sustaining life-threatening injuries as a result of having sex with his brother Buffet.
A captive Florida manatee has died after sustaining fatal injuries while having sex with his sibling, his aquarium has revealed.
Hugh, 38, died suddenly on April 29 at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.
Now Mote Marine Laboratory has confirmed that their ‘beloved’ Hugh has passed away after engaging in ‘natural but heightened mating behavior’ with his brother Buffet.
According to the aquarium, such behavior has been “documented in manatees both in managed care and in the wild.”
Officials said it was the first time such mating behavior had been seen between the two manatees and it was believed that separating them would cause more harm.
Hugh, 38 (pictured) died suddenly on April 29 at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida
Hugh died after engaging in ‘natural but heightened mating behavior’ with his brother Buffet (both pictured)
Mote Marine Laboratory officials said they decided not to separate the manatees for fear of causing more damage in the process.
“Hugh and Buffett were both observed initiating and seeking each other’s interactions throughout the day and there were no obvious signs of discomfort or distress such as listing, snapping or actively avoiding who would have triggered a need for intervention,” they explained.
“At the direction of the veterinarians, distraction over physical separation was chosen because separation previously caused undue anxiety and adverse effects in both manatees,” the statement added.
An autopsy performed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory found the fatal wound to be a “14.5cm long tear in the ventral wall” of his colon.
Jenessa Gjeltema, assistant professor at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine told NBC News“You can sometimes have bad results in these kinds of situations… Dealing with these wild animals under the care of humans is not always a simple situation.”
Gjeltema said sex between male manatees, including brothers, is not uncommon.
“They’re not too picky about who their partners are. They just have that kind of sexual urge and then they engage in activity with whoever seems to be in the area,” she explained.
Adding: “That context of who is related to who is a lesser factor in their social engagements and interactions.”
Hugh and Buffet fans paid tribute to Hugh and the Aquarium in the comments below the announcement.
The aquarium said such behavior has been ‘documented in manatees both in managed care and in the wild’.
One wrote: ‘So sorry for the loss of Hugh!!! I hope Buffet is doing well as a loner for now. Thank you for the amazing work you do and the education you provide to everyone! »
While another commented: ‘So sorry to hear of his passing. Thank you for taking such good care of your residents!
A third added: ‘My heartfelt condolences to the entire healthcare team. Mote does incredible work caring for the animals of its permanent residents, rehabilitating and releasing its patients, conserving and educating the Sarasota Bay Area.