Have a heart on Valentine’s Day—adopt a manatee!

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117027749631237.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.savethemanatee.org’, ‘Amanda, the manatee, had been badly injured by a boat hit and had deep cuts from the propeller. At the time, she had a young calf, Ariel, with her, and both mom and calf were rescued and taken to Miami Seaquarium for rehabilitation. Amanda is identified by the long, parallel prop scars on her right side. (Photo by Pat Hagen) ‘);

Carolyn Krentz and her husband Andrew have created their own special tradition on Valentine’s Day. For the past few years, the Krentzes from Fort Myers, Fla., have adopted a playful 1,800-pound. manatee by the name of “Brutus” from Save the Manatee Club’s Blue Spring adoption program.

“Flowers and chocolates just can’t compare to a big, loveable manatee,” said Carolyn. “My husband and I agree that we don’t need a special day of the year to celebrate our love, as every day is Valentine’s Day for us. Instead, we’d rather spend our money showing the manatees how much we love them!”

An adoption from one of the three programs offered at the Club is $25, and it includes an adoption certificate, photo of a real manatee, biography, membership handbook, a subscription to the Club’s quarterly newsletter, The Manatee Zone, and the bi-monthly e-newsletter, Paddle Tales. Or for $35, each new member who joins the Adopt-A-Manatee program online will also receive a special plush manatee. As an added personal touch, each adoption comes with a Valentine’s Day gift card.

“We plan on adopting Brutus every year on Feb. 14th,” adds Carolyn. “We’re so glad that Save the Manatee Club is taking the necessary steps to save these beautiful marine mammals by getting the word out about the many problems they face, and by giving a voice to the manatees.”

There are 31 manatees to choose from in the Club’s three Florida adoption programs at Blue Spring State Park near Orange City, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, and in the Tampa Bay area.

Since love blooms year-round and not just on Valentine’s Day, manatee adoptions are wonderful to give for every heartfelt occasion. Kristen Ort from Asheville, N.C., decided to adopt the curious, journey-bound Jemp from the Club’s Tampa Bay program for her husband, Tom. Kristen looked high and low for a one-year wedding anniversary gift, and because they both care about animals, she adopted a manatee for him. “When I gave him Jemp’s adoption packet, he was very excited,” said Kristen. “Turns out that for our anniversary, he had planned a trip to Florida so that I could see manatees! Jemp’s adoption made me realize that we had more in common than I thought.”

Manatees are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A little more than 3,000 of them live in Florida’s busy waterways, where boat strikes continue to be the leading known cause of manatee injuries and deaths. Save the Manatee Club, a national, nonprofit advocacy organization, has been working to protect manatees and their habitat for more than 25 years. Funds from the Club’s adoption programs go toward education and conservation efforts.

“We stand behind the Club’s work completely,” said Kristen. “Manatees can really use all the help they can get!”

For more information about manatees, or the adoption program, contact Save the Manatee Club at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751, call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646), or visit their Web site at www.savethemanatee.org. Also, sign up for the Club’s free E-Newsletter.

From the Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2007, issue

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