Prepare for a completely awww-inducing experience.

By Marisa Spyker
April 30, 2019
James R.D. Scott/Getty Images

As far as aquatic animals go, manatees—also known by the less flattering moniker “sea cow”—tend to fly a bit more under the radar. A waterbound relative of the elephant, these gentle giants are slower moving than dolphins and significantly tamer than sharks.

But if there’s one factor with which manatees are created equally, it’s in their ability to completely and utterly melt our hearts. (Just watch this and try not to smile.)

And like, well, pretty much all baby animals, you can generally expect a manatee’s cuteness to be amplified when it’s pint-sized and feeding from a bottle. That’s what you’ll find at the Amazon Rescue Center, which takes in injured and orphaned manatees and rehabilitates them until they’re ready to be released back into the wild. And, lucky for us, there’s video to prove it.

The Amazon Rescue Center is a nonprofit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center in Loreto, Peru. With a focus on wildlife in the Peruvian Amazon, the organization takes in aquatic mammals as well as land animals like sloths, ocelots, and spider monkeys.

Around the world, manatees face dangers from boat strikes, but here in the Amazon, their greatest threat is from human poachers, who hunt the docile creatures for meat or to sell as exotic pets. Today, the species is under threat of extinction.

Through efforts to rehabilitate the animals and educate the public, the Amazon Rescue Center is hoping to turn the trend around. Here, orphaned and injured manatees are cared for and bottle fed non-dairy milk until they’re two years old and able to feast on vegetation on their own. Once healthy, the rescued manatees are released back into protected nature reserves.

Want to support these vulnerable aquatic creatures? The Amazon Rescue Center is open for hour-long tours seven days a week for those who want to learn more about how manatees are rescued and cared for (and, yes, witness an adorable feeding!). Really eager animal lovers can also get more hands-on by volunteering for a day or two at the center. And if the Peruvian Amazon is just a tad off your beaten path, animal fans can show some manatee love by donating to the Amazon Rescue Center here.

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