The Manatee Rehabilitation Program at the Museum
When a young manatee nicknamed “Baby Snoots” arrived in Bradenton for the Desoto celebration in 1949, there was much we didn’t know about these unique creatures that inhabited Florida’s coastal waters.
But over the years, as Snooty made his permanent home here at the South Florida Museum and became the most famous resident in Manatee County, he helped scientists and the public learn much about manatees — from how well they see and hear to the importance of saving wild manatee populations.
Snooty’s personality and charm gave face to the plight of manatees and his participation in numerous scientific studies over the years brought insight into many aspects of manatee life not otherwise available.
In addition to helping more than 2 million in-person and online visitors learn more about manatees, Snooty was also the spark that led the South Florida Museum to join forces with other organizations as a founding member of the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership in 1998 and take an active role in rehabilitating sick or injured manatees so that they could be returned to the wild.
The Partnership is a self-governing group originally created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is made up of organizations that participate in manatee rescue and rehabilitation. The Museum is a Stage 2 manatee rehabilitation facility — the place where manatees come after their critical care needs have been taken care of. One of our main tasks is bringing rehab manatees up to the right size and weight for release. Typically, these animals remain in our care anywhere from a few months to more than a year, depending on the amount of care they need. Each manatee in our care eats and an estimated 10 percent of their body weight in food each day — romaine lettuce, along with kale, cabbage, potatoes and carrots and water hyacinth and other wild food collected by staff.
The Museum has housed 36 rehabilitating manatees since 1998: Newton, Mo, Palma Sola, Desoto Park, Salvador, Angelito, Fort Myers Baby, Passe Grille Baby, Whitaker, Muddy Barron, Snitch, Little Coral, Baby Coral, Baby Sister, Little Nap, Coral Lee, Bolee, Cayman, Teco 2, Dese, Brandee, UPC, Charlie, Epac, Longo, Cheeno, Ace, Myakklemore, Icecube, Sarasolo, Randall, Gale, Lagoona, Baca, Tannebaum, & ONeil.
- Meet the Manatees: Learn more about the manatees currently in our care.
- Tribute to Snooty: Learn more about the life and legacy of Snooty the manatee, who died in 2017.
- Support Manatee Rehabilitation: Donations help us treat and return manatees to the wild each year.
- Read the Think Tank: Our Aquarium blog the Think Tank explores fun facts, interesting tidbits and updates about the manatees in our care.
- Programs in the Parker Manatee Aquarium: Learn about the daily programs the Museum offers in the Parker Manatee Aquarium.