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    Adopt-A-Manatee A Gift for Mother’s Day

    By: Courier Staff Writer

          There’s no other quite like mother, so this year, why not give her something truly precious for Mother’s Day. How about adopting a manatee for mom? All you have to do is choose one from Save the Manatee Club’s (SMC) Adopt-A-Manatee program.
          Mom will receive a photo and biography of her manatee, as well as an adoption certificate, membership handbook, and a subscription to the Save the Manatee Club newsletter. And, during the month of May, each new member who joins the Adopt-A-Manatee program at $35 or more will receive a free T-shirt, featuring a unique manatee design.
          Funds from each Adopt-A-Manatee membership go toward efforts to protect endangered manatees and their habitat.
          And how about adopting a manatee mom? Proud mothers in Save the Manatee Club’s adoption program at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, FL include Lily, Elaine, Phyllis, Lucille and Dana.
          Lily, who is a favorite among the park rangers there, has been a mother eight times! Her son Margarito, is also a favorite in the Save the Manatee Club adoption program. Lily has acted as a surrogate mother for other calves, which is common for female manatees to nurse the calves of other manatees in addition to their own. Mothers nurse their young for one to two years, so a calf really depends on mom during that time.
          Elaine was quite young when her mother was killed by a boat, a sad fate that happens to many manatees in Florida waters. Elaine lost both her brothers to boat hits as well: Boomer and Shane, who were also SMC adoptees. Elaine has had numerous calves throughout the years, and she is known for being playful and mischievous.
          Phyllis is a famous manatee mom at Blue Spring. In 1991, she gave birth to not one, but two calves. Twins are very rare for manatees, so the arrival of sons Bertram and Bartram was a momentous event indeed!
          Lucille is easily identified by her damaged right flipper, which was caused by monofilament line that had wrapped around and become embedded. Thankfully, rescuers removed the line, but she still lost the lower half of her flipper. The good news is that Lucille became a mom at an early age, and in 1993 she became a grandmother.
          As a young calf, Dana was a homebody and liked to stay close to her mother. She has given birth to a number of calves and is known as an outgoing manatee. Apparently, she’s fond of the research canoe and likes to hang around the rangers as they gather data.
          Two manatee moms frequently seen in the Tampa Bay area and along the west coast of Florida are also in SMC’s Adopt-A-Manatee program. Elsie is easy to identify because her tail is badly mutilated from an encounter with a boat propeller. She has two known calves, and was seen with a calf last February. Ginger also has two known calves since 1996 including a new one this year.
          Whichever manatee you choose to adopt for mom, are sure to delight her on Mother’s Day. Save the Manatee Club is a national, nonprofit organization started in 1981 by U.S. Senator Bob Graham and singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett.
          The Club’s mission is to protect endangered manatees and their habitat, as unfortunately, there are only about 3,000 of these unique mammals left in Florida.
          Your adoption and donation dollars will go toward manatee education and public awareness projects, manatee research and rescue, rehabilitation, and release efforts.
          It will also help to protect manatees and their habitat through advocacy, grass roots, and legal action.
          For more information about manatees or the Adopt-A-Manatee program, contact Save the Manatee Club at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751 or call I -800-432-JOIN (5646). You can also visit the SMC web page at www.savethemanatee.org.

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