Manatee – Part 4

Captivity

Underwater photo of manatee

A manatee at SeaWorld, Florida

The oldest manatee in captivity was Snooty, at the South Florida Museum’s Parker Manatee Aquarium in Bradenton, Florida. Born at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company on July 21, 1948, Snooty was one of the first recorded captive manatee births. Raised entirely in captivity, Snooty was never to be released into the wild. As such he was the only manatee at the aquarium, and one of only a few captive manatees in the United States that was allowed to interact with human handlers. That made him uniquely suitable for manatee research and education.

Snooty died suddenly two days after his 69th birthday, July 23, 2017, when he was found in an underwater area only used to access plumbing for the exhibit life support system. The South Florida Museum’s initial press release stated, “Early indications are that an access panel door that is normally bolted shut had somehow been knocked loose and that Snooty was able to swim in.”[

There are a number of manatee rehabilitation centers in the United States. These include three government-run critical care facilities in Florida at Lowry Park Zoo, Miami Seaquarium, and SeaWorld Orlando. After initial treatment at these facilities, the manatees are transferred to rehabilitation facilities before release. These include the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Epcot’s The Seas, South Florida Museum, and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.[

The Columbus Zoo was a founding member of the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership in 2001. Since 1999, the zoo’s Manatee Bay facility has helped rehabilitate 20 manatees. The Cincinnati Zoo has rehabilitated and released more than a dozen manatees since 1999.[

Manatees can also be viewed in a number of European zoos, such as the Tierpark Berlin, the Nuremberg Zoo, in ZooParc de Beauval in France and in the Aquarium of Genoa in Italy. The River Safari at Singapore features seven of them.[ They are also included in the plans of the Wild Place Project in Bristol, England, whose first exhibit is opened in summer 2013 with the manatees as an addition as early as 2015.[

Culture

The manatee has been linked to folklore on mermaids. Native Americans ground the bones to treat asthma and earache. In West African folklore, they were considered sacred and thought to have been once human. Killing one was taboo and required penance.[

In the novel Moby-Dick, Herman Melville distinguishes manatees (“Lamatins”) from small whales; stating, “I am aware that down to the present time, the fish styled Lamatins and Dugongs (Pig-fish and Sow-fish of the Coffins of Nantucket) are included by many naturalists among the whales. But as these pig-fish are a noisy, contemptible set, mostly lurking in the mouths of rivers, and feeding on wet hay, and especially as they do not spout, I deny their credentials as whales; and have presented them with their passports to quit the Kingdom of Cetology.”[

Manatees were featured in the “Cartoon Wars Part II” episode of South Park, as the creative force behind the television show Family Guy. The manatees were shown to be living in a tank at FOX Studios which was filled with “idea balls.” The manatees randomly selected the idea balls to make the jokes for the show. They are also revealed as being “the only animal unmoved by terrorist threats.”[ The manatee is also pivotal in Lair of the Leviathan, the third episode of the game Tales of Monkey Island, by Telltale Games and Lucasarts.

(Information from Wikipedia.com)