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Florida Guide > Other Activities

Snooty the Manatee

As many, if not all, of you will be aware manatees are an endangered species in Florida and they are looked upon with great affection as lovely benign creatures that would do no harm to anyone.

It is often difficult the resist the lure of being drawn into watch these creatures, especially in a controlled environment, and that proved to be the case when we visited the Parker Manatee Aquarium in downtown Bradenton.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with manatees, they are grey slow moving marine mammals often referred to as sea cows and have huge paddle like tails but no dorsal fin. They are herbivores, meaning they only eat vegetation (up to ninety pounds a day) such as cabbage and broccoli and can grow up to twelve feet in length and weigh in excess of one thousand two hundred pounds

The aquarium although rather small, can house up to three manatees in a 60, 000 gallon tank that has viewing facilities both above and beneath water level. Its main purpose is to rehabilitate injured manatees that have already undergone an acute care program in Miami, before releasing them back into the wild.

There is also an exhibit hall within the aquarium that seeks to inform the visitor on such things as manatee habitat, diet and anatomy.

There is, however, one very special resident, who is not only famous enough to demand his own webcam but is also the official mascot of Manatee County. He is known by everyone and his name is Snoopy. Born in 1948 at the Miami Aquarium he is the oldest manatee in captivity and has provided a unique source of research over his 60 year lifetime.

Now some of the activities surrounding Snooty may sound a bit cheesy but they are no doubt undertaken as a fun way of learning more about the species and marine life in general. For example, because Snooty has an officially recorded birth date, he has a free annual birthday party where visitors can enter a birthday card competition and the kids are showered with all kinds of treats.

Students can also sign up to ‘correspond’ with Snooty and the aquarium staff do their best to respond to the questions asked and also disseminate a little bit of knowledge in their replies.

Snooty is certainly famous in these parts so, if you are in Bradenton, why not pop in and say hello?

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Page added on: 19 September 2010
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