On Wednesday, April 2, the animal care staff at the South Florida Museum welcomed two young male manatees to the Museum’s Parker Manatee Aquarium. Nicknamed “Ace” and “Myakklemore” in association with the location in which they were found, they join 65 year old Snooty, the Museum’s long-term resident and world’s oldest known manatee.
“This is an exciting day at the Museum. We’re always happy to welcome new manatees,” said Marilyn Margold, the Museum’s Director of Living Collections. “These two young manatees will bring new energy to Snooty’s pool. They’ll help to keep him engaged and active after having spent some time on his own following our previous releases.”
Both manatees suffered from cold stress, a condition similar to frostbite, and have been undergoing rehabilitation at Lowry Park Zoo, which operates a critical care hospital for injured and sick manatees and orphaned calves. They have been transferred to the South Florida Museum for continued care.
Manatees generally cannot remain healthy in water colder than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Extended exposure to cold may cause the development of skin lesions and pneumonia. To stay healthy, manatees typically migrate to warmer waters such as springs or power plants. Both young manatees are healthy but need to grow more to be ready for release.
“We like manatees to be about 800 pounds at release to help set them up for success, and if they are going to be tagged, they need to be big enough for the belt we put at the base of the tail to fit well,” according to Margold.
Ace was rescued in the Peace River in January 2014. He currently weighs 690 lbs. and is 8 feet 7.5 inches long. Myakklemore was rescued in the Myakka River in Sarasota on January 10, 2014. He currently weighs 270 lbs. and is 6 feet 5 inches long.
As part of the Manatee Rehabilitation and Release Partnership (MRP), a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees, the South Florida Museum is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild. Ace and Myakklemore are the 27th and 28th manatees to be cared for by the Museum in conjunction with the rehabilitation program since 1998. Longo and Cheeno, the most recent companions for Snooty, were both released in January of this year and are doing well.
The endangered Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.
The public is welcome to visit the South Florida Museum to view Ace, Myakklemore and Snooty as part of the Museum’s general admission from Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon – 5 p.m. The public can also view Snooty and his new friends Ace and Myakklemore live online on the SnootyCam.
The largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the South Florida Museum offers engaging exhibits as well as educational programs which interpret the scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the Museum features a constantly changing lineup of temporary exhibitions – offering something new to discover with each visit. The facility also includes both the all-digital Bishop Planetarium Theater and the Parker Manatee Aquarium. Outfitted with a brand new, state-of-the-art Planetarium and projection system in October of 2013, the NEW Bishop Planetarium is the region’s premier astronomy education facility with stunning new multimedia capabilities. The Parker Manatee Aquarium is home to Snooty™, Manatee County’s official mascot and the oldest known manatee in the world. Snooty shares his Aquarium pool with young manatees from the Manatee Rehabilitation and Release Partnership. These injured or orphaned animals are taken care of by the Parker Aquarium staff until they are ready to be released into the wild. For more information about current exhibitions and special programs, membership, hours, or admission prices please call 941-746-4131 or visit the museum's website.
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