updated 2/22/2007 12:56:00 PM ET 2007-02-22T17:56:00

ORANGE CITY, Fla. — Gene and Dundee are free.

The father and son manatees were released Tuesday at Blue Spring State Park.

Gene is 32 years old and weighs 1,930 pounds. He was rescued in February 1977 from Indian Harbor Beach near Cape Canaveral after he was found suffering from injuries caused by a boat.

"We didn't know then if manatees could successfully be released after spending a long period of time in captivity," research scientist Monica Ross said. "We now know they can."

Gene fathered Dundee at Sea World in 1986. The 1,300-pound mammal was released last year but researches discovered that he had been losing weight during his nine months in the wild, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

Given a checkup
Ross said Dundee has gained 300 pounds this year, and she feels confident this release will be a success.

Both manatees were brought to Blue Spring from the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. The animals were documented, given a health checkup and tagged with satellite tracking equipment before they were released.

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