BRADENTON – It’s going to be a party in Snooty’s pool.
Two guests – Icecube and Sarasolo – have just arrived at the South Florida Museum, in time to celebrate the birthday of the oldest living manatee in captivity, Snooty. The two new rescues join Snooty and Myakklemore in the tank at the museum.
The four manatees put the museum’s aquarium at capacity. Both new rescues 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, according to officials. They have been transferred to the South Florida Museum for continued care.
“These two young manatees will be great companions for Myakklemore. They'll also help to keep Snooty engaged and ‘on his flippers,' “ said Marilyn Margold, the Museum’s director of living collections.
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Icecube was rescued Jan. 21 from Charlotte Harbour. He weighed only 205 pounds at that time, but as of June 24 has grown to more than 400 pounds and is 6 feet 11 inches long. Sarasolo was rescued from Sarasota’s Phillippi Creek on March 2, weighing 276 pounds. He now weighs 366 pounds and is 6 feet 5 inches long.
Both young manatees are healthy but need to grow more to be ready for release.
“We like manatees to be between 700 and 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.
Snooty, along with the three companions undergoing rehabilitation, will eat more than 80,000 pounds of romaine lettuce and vegetables this year, which will cost the museum more than $80,000. Maintaining the aquarium alone costs more than $55,000 annually, according to officials.
“This year, we have pledges totaling $60,000 in matching funds – so any donations made to the campaign by Sept. 2 will be doubled up to this amount,” said Brynne Anne Besio, the museum’s CEO. “It’s such a wonderful way for the community’s support of these endangered animals to be stretched even further – so contributors can truly ‘Double Their Good.’”
The museum is preparing to host Snooty’s 67th birthday July 18. The free Birthday Bash and Wildlife Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The South Florida Museum is a second-stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they are ready to be released back to the wild. Icecube and Sarasolo are manatees Nos. 29 and 30 to be cared for since 1998. Ace, the most recently released of Snooty’s companions, was released in January and is believed to be doing well in the wild.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.