Go beyond the usual Easter basket fixtures this year and include a special manatee gift adoption from Save the Manatee Club.  That’s what California resident Nancy Blessing-Walker did last Easter for her neighbor’s five-year-old daughter, Sophia.  “I picked Ariel from Save the Manatee Club’s adoption program, and Sophia was thrilled to receive an adoption packet which included Ariel’s photo,” said Nancy.  “Over the years I have adopted many manatees for the grandkids and friends, and every time they receive their packets, they are so excited to see and read about these gentle giants.”

Thirty-four real living manatees are up for adoption in Save the Manatee Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee® Program.  Two new manatees were recently added – Gator, a winter visitor at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and Electra, a resident at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, Florida.  Each person who adopts a manatee for a $25 tax-deductible donation will receive a full-color photo, biography, and adoption certificate, as well as a membership handbook and a subscription to The Manatee Zone, the Club’s official quarterly newsletter, which features updates on the adopted manatees when they are sighted.

And for a $35 tax-deductible donation, each new member who joins the Adopt-A-Manatee® program also receives a collectible manatee Easter basket ornament.  Shipping is free in the United States.

Founded in 1981 by former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham and singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett, Save the Manatee Club is an award-winning, international nonprofit conservation organization and the voice for manatees and their habitat.

Save the Manatee Club is concerned about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to downlist manatees from endangered to threatened status under the Endangered Species Act.  Patrick Rose, Executive Director of the Club explains, “As an aquatic biologist who has studied manatees and our aquatic ecosystems for more than 40 years, I recognize how far we’ve come, but manatees and their habitat remain at great and increasing risk.  We must ensure manatees receive the protections critical to their long-term survival.”

Funding from the Club’s adoption program is the cornerstone of the organization’s education and conservation efforts.  Adopting a manatee for someone at Easter or for other occasions throughout the year helps with emergency rescue response for sick and injured manatees and for waterway signage, public awareness, research, advocacy, and more.  Read about the Club’s work at savethemanatee.org/smcinfo.

Nancy, who is a retired physical education teacher, was pleased to find another way to support the manatees she cares so much about.  She participated in the Virtual Save the Manatee 5K last year and plans to run again this year.  Sign up for the Virtual Run or the 5K in Michigan on May 21st at everalracemgt.com or savethemanatee5K.com. Proceeds go to Save the Manatee Club for various conservation efforts.  “I think the Club is doing a fantastic service for these precious marine mammals,” said Nancy.

For more information about manatees and adopting one as an Easter gift, 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 savethemanatee.org.  Follow the Club using Twitter twitter.com/savethemanateeand Facebook www.facebook.com/savethemanateeclub.