Crane Tech Helps ZooTampa With Manatees

(L-R) are Ethan Collier, Wayne Essman, Jaime Vaccaro, Tiffany Burns, Kerry Sanchez and Sherri McLean.

Wed January 19, 2022
Crane Tech

Crane Tech LLC was contacted by April Jaime Vaccaro, an animal care supervisor from ZooTampa's manatee area in April 2021 regarding mobile crane operating training for their manatee center.

The Manatee Critical Care center at ZooTampa takes care of as many manatees as possible with a dedicated animal care team and veterinary staff who tend to the manatees 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Manatees, or "sea cows," as the locals call them, are herbivores that graze on fresh and saltwater plants. Natural and human-related activities threaten them every day.

In the winter, they are subject to cold stress and seek warm water areas that may not offer the safety of deeper water. Red tide, being struck by boats, getting trapped in flood control structures and eating litter are but a few of the threats these docile creatures endure daily.

ZooTampa transports manatees from around the state to their care center in Tampa Bay. ZooTampa is one of four manatee hospitals in the state and is the only critical care facility for manatees on the Gulf Coast.

ZooTampa has three 16,000-gal. medical treatment pools, two underwater treatment pools and a public observation area where you can see the rehabilitation process right before your eyes.

ZooTampa's team — the crane team is all females — on the manatee care team work day-in and day-out to tend to the patients in their care. Their passion for manatees is evident as they hope to inspire the next generation of manatee lovers to protect the species.

Transporting manatees is a tricky and delicate process, guiding them from a tank in a truck onto a stretcher specially made for this purpose. Manatee and stretcher are lifted by the mobile crane and placed into one of the medical pools. Manatees, which weigh anywhere between 40 to 4,000-lbs., are safely transferred to the desired location. They are then weighed by a hanging crane scale and given an initial health check by a trained technician during the assessment process.

After spending a day with the manatee care team and witnessing the manatee care process, Crane Tech has to partnered with ZooTampa and donated training services to their team.

"We are proud to be a part of our community and support the animal care, education and research, at ZooTampa. So far, six of the animal care team have attended mobile crane training where they learned details of crane safety and proper crane setup. Our staff provided very well received specific training on their crane and work requirements, in addition to the course attendance," Crane Tech said.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is a 63-acre nonprofit zoo located in the heart of Tampa Bay. In 2009, Lowry Park Zoo was voted the #1 Family Friendly Zoo in the US by Parents Magazine and recognized by the State of Florida as the center for Florida wildlife conservation and biodiversity.

"Many of us here at Crane Tech raised our children in this area, and Lowry Park Zoo was a frequent school and family outing location. We are proud to offer our services free of charge to community groups and provide individual scholarships to well-deserving groups, individuals, and organizations. If you are going to be... be a part of something important," the company added.

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For more information about ZooTampa, visit