Modeled after a cypress spring, the newly renovated Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat holds 60,000 gallons of water and houses manatees that were rescued from the wild after they became sick or injured. This exhibition allows above and underwater viewing, and offers guests information about the anatomy and life history of manatees, including the challenges they face in the wild.
The Bishop’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat is a Stage 2 rehabilitation facility — a temporary home where manatees come after their initial critical care needs have been met in manatee hospitals. This second-stage facility offers manatees the opportunity to gain exposure to natural foods and feeding strategies, and gain weight for their return to the wild. Second stage facilities play a vital role in maintaining space for critically ill manatee patients in the hospitals.
The Bishop has been rehabilitating manatees since 1998 and was a founding member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 2001. The MRP is a cooperative of nonprofit, private, state, and federal entities that rescue, rehabilitate and return manatees to the wild.
The newly renovated Habitat resembles a cypress spring and provides the animals with an environment that closely mimics what they will encounter in the wild. The pool contains variable textures and rougher surfaces that give manatees an opportunity to use their sense of touch. Other features include an artificial tree that the manatees can navigate around, as well as different levels on which to rest, providing a stimulating environment for them to navigate that has features similar to what they experience in the wild.
The facility was the permanent home to Manatee County’s official mascot and the oldest known manatee in the world, Snooty, who passed away in 2017 at a record-breaking 69 years old.
Exhibition: Being a Sea Turtle is Hard — But You Can Help!
Sea turtles and manatees share similar evolutionary histories — both animals are descendants of terrestrial species. Unfortunately, they also share similar threats — from loss of habitat to man-made obstacles. All sea turtle species are federally listed as threatened or endangered.
This exhibition highlights some of the ways that the public can be good stewards and help keep sea turtles safe on our local beaches and in our local waterways. It features life-size scientific illustrations of the five sea turtle species that call the Gulf of Mexico home, along with the skeleton of a loggerhead sea turtle — the most common sea turtle species on Florida’s west coast and shows the ecosystem connections that manatees and sea turtles share.
“Being a Sea Turtle is Hard — But You Can Help!” also showcases information about loggerhead nesting on Anna Maria Island as monitored by the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, with running totals of false crawls and nests laid during the annual May-October sea turtle nesting season and shows the public how they can make a difference in the lives of these animals.
The exhibit was funded in part by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program, which is supported by proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at helpingseaturtles.org.