An Unusually Heart-Felt Valentine
For those not wishing to show your love with the usual chocolates and flowers, something to consider is to show your love as well for those in the natural world. Save the Manatee Club, savethemanatee.org, a non-profit based in Florida, has a program for adopting a manatee and protecting an endangered species – at the same time.
West Indian manatees are large, gray aquatic mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail and flippers. Surprisingly, the manatee’s closest relatives are the elephant and the hyrax – a smaller, gopher-shaped mammal. Within the United States, the migratory manatees tend to winter in Florida (as do many college co-eds). Unlike many domestic pets, manatees can live 60 years or more (although many now are living only to age 30 or less).
Watercraft-related incidents are the leading identified cause of manatee death, as well as cold weather and increased loss of vegetation-producing habitat.
Presently, most work to protect the manatee is not based on governmentally funded programs but on donations.
According to the group’s website, “Unlike other animal adoption programs, the manatees in our adoption programs are real, living manatees with known histories … The manatees in Florida today have every right to be considered Florida natives.”
Not to mention, you could extend another gift to your Valentine: Travel to Florida, visit the beach and theme parks and visit the adopted manatee as well. They can be found at three locations in Florida.
To adopt, call the office at 1.800.432.JOIN (5646). For $25, you receive an adoption certificate, full-color photo, a biography of a real endangered Florida manatee, a membership handbook and newsletters.