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Advocates try to spring Snooty

Published Oct. 10, 2005

In 1991, the Save the Manatee Club mounted an effort to bring a 42-year-old manatee named Snooty to the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. Snooty has spent his life alone in a small tank at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton. The club, along with other animal rights groups, wanted to ensure that Snooty could live out his days around other manatees.

Rosie leaves town for surgery

In October 1991, the largest of the manatees at the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park _ Rosie _ was moved to Lowry Park Zoo. Several weeks later, Rosie became the first manatee to have elective surgery at the zoo when a growth was removed from her back. She is scheduled to be moved back to the park after she is fully recovered.

Ernie's freedom cut short

Ernie, a manatee who had recovered from injuries and been released into the wild in June 1991, was found dead just two months later. A three-year resident of the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, Ernie apparently drowned after being caught in a drainage system in Cocoa Beach during a heavy rainstorm. Ernie's release was filmed by the news magazine 48 Hours and the segment is set to air this spring.

Park changes manatee programs

In 1991, the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park made several changes in its manatee program. Most noticeably, park rangers who had been giving manatee programs for park visitors stopped entering the water to present the program and, instead, conducted the program from the shore. The change was made to reduce the contact between the manatees and their human handlers.

Manatees return early to Kings Bay

Higher-than-normal numbers of manatees packed into Kings Bay as early as September of last year. Counts were just shy of 100 animals even weeks before the Oct. 1 slow and idle speed zones were activated in the bay for the winter season. Those numbers compare to about two dozen in all Citrus coastal waterways in September of 1990.

Manatee monument stolen again

For the second time since it was placed at King Spring in Kings Bay, a manatee monument was stolen by a diver. Placed there originally by Orlando manatee advocate Harvey Barnett in 1984, the monument was stolen in 1989 and never found. The replacement manatee statue taken in August 1991 was left at the office of the Fish and Wildlife Service. After repairing the statue, Barnett again anchored it at the bottom of Kings Bay in late November.

Manatees upstage actor

Actor LeVar Burton shared center stage with the manatees of the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park last summer in a segment of the PBS show, the Reading Rainbow. The program filmed at the park and in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge will feature a review of the book Sam the Sea Cow. It's scheduled to air this fall.

Manatee education center in works

Although the site of the old SeaWolf Restaurant on U.S. 19 in Homosassa Springs was heavily damaged by vandals, state park officials still see the location as a good site for a manatee education center. A public land trust is negotiating with the Pappas family of Tarpon Springs to buy the site and allow the state to open it again as the front entrance to the park.

Mantee dies during rescue attempt

After tracking a sick manatee for more than a week, volunteers with the manatee rescue team finally trapped the 1,000-pound-plus animal in the Halls River in May. But once the animal, which appeared to be suffering from malnourishment and infection, was brought to shore, it died.

Breeding in captivity programs halted

Concerned about inbreeding and unplanned captive manatee births filling up rehabilitation centers, federal wildlife officials last October asked parks to keep male and female manatees apart to prevent future breeding. Officials at the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park agreed to the concept, but the move to separate their captive herd is on hold until other repairs at the park are complete.