The popularity of eco-friendly holiday gift-giving is on the rise. Manatee adoptions from Save the Manatee Club are gifting options that gratify holiday shoppers twofold – it’s easy on the conscience and the pocketbook.
And although the endangered manatees in the Club’s adoption program live primarily in Florida waters, ever-growing admiration for the charming marine mammals extends across the United States and well beyond. In fact, when someone adopts a Florida manatee, they are also helping to save manatees in West Africa, the Wider Caribbean, and South America, where Save the Manatee Club continues to expand rescue, research, and education efforts.
In the farthest northwest region of North America, Hannah Stiver attends college in Alaska, likes to cross country ski and knit, and is also the adoptive parent of Whiskers the manatee from Save the Manatee Club’s Blue Spring adoption program near Orange City, Florida. Hannah asked her mom to adopt Whiskers for her last Christmas. “My family & I moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, when I was eight, and we would go to Blue Spring to see the manatees,” says Hannah. “I was enthralled! Alaska has some pretty amazing animals too, but manatees will always be closest to my heart.”
An annual manatee adoption costs $25 and includes an adoption certificate, color photo of a real Florida manatee, biography, membership handbook, and newsletters throughout the year with updated reports on the manatees in the adoption program. Shipping is free within the United States. A personalized holiday message comes with the gift adoption. And each new member who joins the Adopt-A-Manatee® program online for a $35 tax-deductible donation will also receive Save the Manatee Club’s special edition 2011 wall calendar, in celebration of the Club’s 30th Anniversary. There are 33 real manatees to choose from in the Club’s adoption programs.
Hannah, an art major in college, created a manatee out of wire rod in her sculpture class. “It’s about five feet long and is hanging from a tree by the art department. It wouldn’t fit in my dorm room,” she explains. “One manatee poster I’ve had for eleven years is from Save the Manatee Club and it features all the sirenians of the world. It has moved from Florida to Alaska with me.”
Much further south, in the Lone Star state of Texas, 11-year-old Beverly Barry dreams of one day becoming a marine biologist. Her mom, Bartlett, adopted Lorelei from the manatee adoption program at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park for her daughter as a Christmas gift. She chose Lorelei because she was the only manatee the family had not yet adopted from Homosassa. “There’s nothing better than a manatee gift in our household.”
Manatees are listed as endangered at the international, federal, and state levels. 13% of the known Florida manatee population (estimated at around 5,000), has already died this year. Patrick Rose, Save the Manatee Club’s Executive Director says, “Manatees have been further jeopardized by the loss of more than 650 manatees so far this year, the majority most likely due to cold stress caused by Florida’s unprecedented cold winter. And the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is far from over. Because no one has seen a spill of this magnitude, we can only make educated guesses about the long-term damages that the oil spill and dispersants used could inflict on manatees and especially on their aquatic habitat.”
Save the Manatee Club, an international nonprofit conservation organization, was co-founded in 1981 by world-renowned singer/songwriter, Jimmy Buffett. Funds from the adoption program go toward emergency rescue response for sick and injured manatees, and for waterway signage, public awareness, research, and more.
For more information about adopting a real manatee this holiday season, 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 and purchase unique manatee gifts at the Club’s gift catalog at http://www.savethemanatee.org/shop.
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