Tampa-based air ambulance company flies baby dolphin from Texas to Florida Keys

Jet ICU, a Tampa-based air ambulance company, recently transported a young, male bottlenose dolphin from the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center in Corpus Christi to the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys for free. On Friday, March 25th, the approximately 2-year-old orphaned calf, named Ranger, was carefully loaded onto a Jet ICU air ambulance in Texas and flown to the Marathon Airport in the Florida Keys. The owners of Jet ICU decided to provide Ranger’s transport free of charge. The transport would typically cost about $30,000. 

Ranger was suffering from an underlying respiratory infection and dehydration when he was rescued from Goose Island State Park in Texas in June 2021. He made a full recovery at the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue. However, Ranger does not have the skills needed to survive in the wild, and combined with his young age, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined that he could not be released and selected Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key, FL to be his permanent home. 


“Jet ICU is always working to help those in need of medical attention get home, and that also includes dolphins,” said Mike Honeycutt, Founder & CEO of Jet ICU. “We are fortunate to have the ability to provide this necessary transport for free, so Ranger can thrive and receive continued care for the rest of his life. This is not our first animal transport, and I’m sure it won’t be our last. Jet ICU prides itself on providing the highest quality of medical care for all of our patients.” 

Ranger the dolphin flown to research center in Florida

Ranger’s name is a nod to his Texas roots and fighting spirit. He is currently swimming in DRC’s Medical Pool under careful monitoring by the staff veterinary and animal care team. After an initial quarantine period, Ranger will be transferred to the facility’s dolphin lagoons in Florida Bay (Gulf of Mexico). He will gradually be introduced to other dolphins at DRC and will have time to acclimate to his new surroundings, dolphin family members, and human friends. The Dolphin Research Center is currently home to 25 other dolphins. 

“We are excited to welcome Ranger into the Dolphin Research Center family,” added DRC President/CEO Rita Irwin. “Texas State Aquarium did a fantastic job of restoring this youngster to health and we look forward to continuing to help him thrive with excellent care here at his new forever home. We are grateful to Jet ICU for supporting the air transport to get Ranger here safely and to our other generous donors who are supporting his ongoing care.” 

Jet ICU flies 7 aircraft and operates the largest long-range air ambulance fleet in North America. The Tampa-based company flies globally and is accredited by the National Accreditation Alliance of Medial Transport Applications (NAAMTA), a distinction that sets Jet ICU apart in the air ambulance industry. NAAMTA is an ISO 9001 accredited origination. 

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