The animal care staff at the South Florida Museum recently welcomed two young male manatees to their facility. Nicknamed “Longo” and “Cheeno,” they joined Snooty, the Museum’s long-term resident manatee who, at 64 is the oldest known manatee. “We’re always happy to welcome new manatees,” said Marilyn Margold, the Museum’s director of living collections. “Snooty’s been on his own for a couple of weeks now, and these two will bring new energy.”
Both manatees suffered from cold stress and have been undergoing rehabilitation at Lowry Park Zoo, which operates a critical care hospital for injured and sick manatees and orphaned calves. They were transferred to the South Florida Museum for continued care. Both are healthy but need to grow some more to be ready for release. “We like manatees to be about 800 pounds at release, 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.
Longo was rescued off of Longboat Key in January 2012. He currently weighs 675 lbs. and is 7 feet 3 inches long. Cheeno was rescued in the Caloosahatchee River in February 2012. He currently weighs 465 lbs. and is 6 feet 7 inches long.
Cold stress is a condition similar to frostbite. Manatees generally cannot remain healthy in water colder than 68⁰ F. 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.
As part of the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), 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. Longo and Cheeno will be the 25th and 26th manatees to be cared for by the Museum in conjunction with the rehabilitation program. Charlie and Epac, the most recent companions for Snooty, were both released in the past several weeks.
The MRP is 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. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available online. 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 Longo, Cheeno and Snooty as part of the Museum’s general admission. The museum is located at 201 10th Street West in downtown Bradenton. Current operating hours are Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sundays, noon - 5 p.m. Admission is $15.95 for adults, $13.95 for seniors (65 and over), $11.95 for children (ages 4-12). Children ages 3 and younger are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.
The South Florida Museum is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, featuring engaging exhibits as well as educational programs which interpret the scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe. The facility includes the all-digital Bishop Planetarium and Parker Manatee Aquarium which is home to Snooty™ the manatee, Manatee County’s most famous resident. For more information, please call 941-746-4131 .
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