Known as "sea cows" for their docility and bulk, manatees slowly travel the warm, shallow waters of inland coastal ways and rivers throughout the world. These mammals face threats from sharks, crocodiles, alligators and humans. Pollution fouls their habitats and destroys their food supplies. Their natural curiosity and penchant for travelling in the same waterways as small boats often makes them victims of collisions. Adoption programs can publicise the dangers and set up protected waterways so manatees can travel unharmed.
Contact the Save the Manatee Club at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, Fla. 32751 or call 1-800-432-JOIN and request an Adopt-A-Manatee application.
Pick a location. Adoption or sponsorship is broken into three programs within three Florida areas. Blue Spring State Park cares for 20 manatees that winter in the area. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park rehabilitates manatees before releasing them into the wild. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also puts manatees up for adoption. You can view the manatees online and adopt from any of these organisations.
Choose your support level: Associate £16, Friend £22, Sponsor £32, Guardian £65 and Steward £325. All contributors receive a certificate of adoption, a membership handbook and a subscription to the "Save the Manatee Club" newsletter and the e-zine "Paddle Tails."
Visit the website below to adopt a manatee. Click on the "Adopt-A-Manatee" prompt, and then the "Adopt-A-Manatee Online" prompt. Follow the instructions.
Some programs offer discounts for teachers and classrooms. Explore the website or contact the Save the Manatee Club with questions.