So Beautiful! :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_imwld_WzI

No, I am not hand polishing a table top. This is “Lil’ Joe”, a Manatee I had the privilege of chatting with. Here’s better look at more of Lil’ Joe. It’s extremely difficult to get all of him in one photograph. (He’s not that little) :

The incredible and very proud Keeper next to me is Lindsey, a Manatee lover from way back who managed to luck out and work with her first choice of “Houses”. It doesn’t always work that way. Keepers are hired based on need and you tend to go where there is a job. But Lindsey wanted the Manatee House and got it right off.  She is talented, sensitive and knows her animals very well. Her work is all about the Manatees, water, pumps, temperature gauges, filtering systems and lettuce…Lots of lettuce. Here is a dry-erase board I saw in the backstage area of the Manatee House:

Joe and Slip are her responsibilities and this is what they weigh and how much they eat. Rosy is the “Competition”: the largest Captive Manatee at another location on record.  In this particular exhibit they also have other Florida Wildlife including snakes which is what makes this a requirement:

Notice the little rubber spider and snake above the button? Nice touch…

This has been an extraordinary vacation. I still have over a week to go and I have learned so much. These Keepers work their tails off and still find the time to humor me and my unending questions about them. I think they would rather talk about their animals and they aren’t very keen on being photographed. Kim in the Bird House just shudders when she sees me coming around with my camera; especially when she is thawing fish or tossing 50 pound crates of food around.  They are a proud bunch and extremely devoted to their Houses and their animals. Lindsey incredibly is still happy and excited about her job with these huge guys. She loves them and it is obvious that they pay attention to her. While I was in the Manatee house moving around their pool, (120 thousand gallons) they quietly followed us, or Lindsey rather. They stayed near by, listening to our voices and and watching our movements.                                         Their tanks are cleaned daily by volunteer divers who scrub down their tank and vacuum debris caused by Manatee poop and remains of 150 pounds of lettuce thrown into their tank every day. I was absolutely thrilled by this encounter and was humbled by the size and gentle manners of Lindsey’s incredibly graceful creatures.

Okay, I can’t help it. A few more shots of the Manatees:

I don’t care about my watch.

Another Amazing Face

Thanks for Stopping by. More to come…

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