Think Outside the Basket
Give a Manatee!
By Janice Nearing
Love those sweet-natured manatees or know someone who does? Join the Club! Save the Manatee Clubs. Thousands of people around the world have become members by “adopting” one or more of the 32 manatees featured in Save the Manatee Club’s three Florida adoption programs protecting the endangered marine mammals. Manatee adoptions are often given as gifts, and with Easter coming up, this is a great alternative to candy and the usual fare.
Maureen Dalessio from Pennsylvania adopted manatees for her young nieces and nephew in South Jersey last year. “I wanted to do something to help with conservation of these docile, adorable animals,” said Maureen. “So, instead of giving the typical chocolate Easter bunny in a basket, I thought a fluffy little toy manatee, along with the adoption photo and papers of real manatees — Ginger, Brutus, Ariel and Betsy, would be a much healthier present.”
It was while visiting SeaWorld in California ten years ago that Maureen first learned about manatees and was immediately smitten with their gentle ways. She felt it was important to share her experience and knowledge. “I hope when my nieces and nephew are fully grown, the manatees will be thriving and worry-free from the many dangers they now face,” she explained.
For a $25 tax-deductible donation, the Club will send an adoption certificate, photo of a real Florida manatee, biography, and a fact-filled handbook, to anyone, anywhere in the world. They’ll also receive a subscription to the Club’s quarterly newsletter, The Manatee Zone, and the bi-monthly e-newsletter, Paddle Tales. Or for a $35 tax-deductible donation, each new member who joining online will also receive a plush manatee toy.
The manatee population in Florida, estimated to be about 3,000, is listed at the state, federal, and international levels as endangered.
Patrick Rose, Executive Director of the Save the Manatee Club, points out that in 2006, a record-setting 417 manatees died in Florida, and hundreds more died in 2007. “The population cannot sustain these losses year after year,” he said. “All future risk assessments done by the state or federal government predicts catastrophic declines in the future unless very specific remedial measures are taken in time.”
Most adult manatees living in the wild bear the scars from watercraft collisions. In fact, manatee scars are so prevalent, researchers use them as a method of identifying individual manatees. Other human-related threats include loss of warm-water habitat and destruction of habitat associated with development and climate change.
The Adopt-A-Manatee program helps to fund education and public awareness endeavors; research, rescue, rehabilitation, and release projects; and advocacy and legal efforts to help protect manatees and their habitat. Save the Manatee Club has been working to protect manatees and their habitat for over twenty-six years.
Unlike most other animal adoption programs, the Club’s adoption programs feature
real manatees. If you time your visit just right, you may be able to see your
adopted manatees at their preferred Florida winter refuges.
For more information about manatees and adopting one as an Easter gift, contact Save the Manatee Club at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751, call (800) 432-JOIN (5646), or visit http://www.savethemanatee.org/ where you can also sign up for the Club’s free E-Newsletter.
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