If manatees are cute, baby manatees are downright adorable. And feeding a baby manatee by hand?
Well, that’s just off the cuteness charts. Best of all, it’s an experience you can have at the Amazon Rescue Center.
Located just outside of Iquitos, the center is home a dozen or so orphaned baby manatees who lost their mothers through either hunting or an accident. Once the babies have grown into adults, they’re released back into the wild, usually within one of Peru’s natural protected areas such as Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve or Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Regional Conservation Area. Each mature manatee is released with a tag in its tail, allowing biologists to track its activity, and ensure it properly adapts to life in the wild.
While the Amazon Rescue Center receives funding from the World Aquarium Zoo, it also relies on visitors to help keep the lights on. This means that you can see the adorable, gray blobs of cuteness bobbing around in their pools, purchase some leaves, and have the big babies literally eating out of your hand.
From Iquitos, you can reach the Amazon Rescue Center by taxi or minibus. It’s seven miles southwest of the city on the Iquitos-Nauta road. The center is open daily from 9:00 a.m., to 3:00 p.m. Admission is S/20 (approximately $6 US).
Are you ready to experience the unique joy of feeding baby manatees, as well as all the other wonders of the Peruvian Amazon? Check out the trips below, and start packing.