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MARINE PARKS ORDERED TO KEEP MANATEES FROM REPRODUCING

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Federal officials have ordered marine parks to keep captive manatees from having sex so they won't have babies, baffling people trying to increase the numbers of the endangered species.

"Dumb," says Dr. Jesse White, a Dunnellon veterinarian and manatee expert who pioneered captive-born manatee programs."We've been having births without necessarily planning them, and that's been filling up facilities with animals that we're not sure what to do with," said Robert Turner, who coordinates manatee protection programs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Until a captive-breeding plan is developed and approved by his agency, the mammals should be separated by sex, Turner said Wednesday.

But government agencies say there are other concerns.

"At this point, we're not at all sure that captive-born manatees will do well in the wild," said Pat Rose, who directs the office of protected species for the state Department of Natural Resources.