Step Into Awareness of Manatee Conservation With an Augmented Reality Experience at the Cincinnati Zoo

You'll be able to see what the manatees' habitat looked like before and after conservation efforts.

click to enlarge Calliope, Soleil and Piccolina are part of Cincinnati Zoo's second-stage manatee rehabilitation program. - Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Calliope, Soleil and Piccolina are part of Cincinnati Zoo's second-stage manatee rehabilitation program.

The Cincinnati Zoo is partnering with a Florida city to bring awareness to what's happening in the world of manatee conservation.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 1-2, Discover Crystal River Florida, the tourism arm of the city of Crystal River on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is hosting its Step Into Awareness augmented reality (AR) experience at the Cincinnati Zoo. The experience aims to highlight the conservation efforts taking place to protect Florida’s West Indian manatees. Crystal River is known as the Manatee Capital of the World and has been at the forefront of conservation efforts for the animals.

The multisensory AR experience will be happening at the Manatee Springs exhibit. Zoo guests can use their phones to scan a QR code and be transported underwater where they can see manatees and their habitat. Guests are encouraged to stand in a well-lit area with no obstacles so they can move about freely through the AR world. There will also be “Pre-Conservation” and “Post-Conservation” buttons to select to see the difference conservation efforts have made so far.

“This creative partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo is the perfect way to launch Discover Crystal River’s innovative new AR experience and highlight ongoing conservation efforts to maintain our healthy manatee habitats,” John Pricher, director of Discover Crystal River Florida, said in a press release.

If you can't make it to the zoo, the QR code is also available here.

Discover Crystal River Florida says the Cincinnati Zoo was selected to launch this AR experience because they’re one of just two zoos outside Florida taking part in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership.
"We are excited to see guests' reactions to the immersive experience that DCRF is bringing to Manatee Springs," said Cincinnati Zoo's curator of mammals, Kim Scott, in the release. "Our mission at the Cincinnati Zoo is to bring people close enough to care, and AR has great potential to do that."

Since opening Manatee Springs in 2000, the Cincinnati Zoo has cared for 26 manatees. In November, the zoo welcomed three rescued 1-year-old manatees – Soleil, Calliope and Piccolina – to its facility for the second step of their rehabilitation journey. When those manatees are healthy enough, they will be released back into the wild.
Guests taking part in the manatee AR experience will also have the chance to win Discover Crystal River Florida swag and a two-day trip to Crystal River, which includes accommodations at Plantation on Crystal River and a manatee snorkeling tour.

Cincinnnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, 3400 Vine St., Avondale. More about Manatee Springs:

More on Crystal River's manatee conservation efforts:

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