A manatee who died in a Florida aquarium this year sustained fatal injuries caused by sex with his brother, officials said.
Hugh, 38, died unexpectedly April 29 at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, which this week shed more light on the animal’s passing, saying the injury was most likely the result of sex with his brother, Buffett.
Mote insisted that Hugh’s handlers never believed he was in any danger.
“On the day of Hugh’s passing, Hugh and Buffett engaged in natural, yet increased, mating behavior observed and documented in manatees both in managed care and in the wild,” the aquarium said in a statement. “This was the first time such heightened mating behavior was witnessed between the two manatees.”
A necropsy performed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab found the fatal wound was a “14.5 cm long tear in the ventral wall” of his colon.
“Hugh and Buffett were both observed initiating and mutually seeking interactions from each other throughout the day and there were no obvious signs of discomfort or distress such as listing, crunching, or active avoidance that would have triggered a need for intervention,” the aquarium said.
Keepers didn’t try to physically separate the manatees during sex, fearing that would do more harm.