Monthly support program will help ensure continuity of care for manatees like Aria

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A manatee injured by a boat strike and suffering from cold stress that was originally rescued in January arrived at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature’s Stage 2 rehabilitation facility on

Tuesday. Nicknamed Aria, the young manatee was rescued from Anna Maria Sound and received initial treatment from ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Aria, estimated to be about 1 1/2, will join Janus and Iclyn, the manatees already being cared for in The Bishop’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat. Aria weighed just 220 pounds when she was rescued. When she arrived at The Bishop on Tuesday, she was just over 6 feet long and about 340 pounds.

“It’s likely that Aria was struck by a boat and subsequently orphaned,” said Virginia Edmonds, Director of Animal Care at the Museum. “And, since she was injured in January and may not have known where to find a warm-water refuge without her mother’s guidance, she also suffered from cold stress. We’re glad we’re here to help care for this young manatee and get her ready to return to the wild.”

The Bishop has been rehabilitating manatees since 1998 and was a founding member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 2001. As one of only three Stage 2 rehabilitation facilities in Florida, The Bishop cares for recovering manatees, freeing much-needed emergency space so that seriously ill and injured animals can be treated in critical-care units elsewhere. Spending time in the Museum’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat allows manatees time to finish the recovery process, grow and prepare for their return to the wild.

It’s a service that is needed now more than ever, said Museum CEO Hillary Spencer. “This year has been especially tough for manatees throughout Florida. More manatees have died in 2021 than in any other year in the state’s history — making rescue and rehabilitation programs like ours more important than ever.”

That’s why The Bishop is unveiling a new monthly support program for manatees: Bishop Foster Friends.

“You really will become manatees’ BFF when you become a Bishop Foster Friend and make a monthly donation  that directly supports things like food and the specialized care and habitat that manatees need so we can help them successfully return to the wild,” Spencer said. “We’re also honored to share that donations made

through Bishop Foster Friends will be matched by Florida Power & Light Company’s charitable arm, the NextEra Energy Foundation!”

“FPL is committed to conserving Florida’s unique ecosystems and native wildlife,” said Kate MacGregor, FPL vice president of environmental services. “We’ve worked closely with regulatory agencies and environmental organizations for more than 30 years to ensure that manatees are protected. That is why we are pleased to support The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature’s efforts to raise funds to increase their capacity for manatee rehabilitation during this critical time.”

FPL will match up to $20,000 of donations made to Bishop Foster Friends. Monthly donations will provide guaranteed support for manatee care and will ensure that the Museum can meet the needs of one of Florida’s most beloved — and threatened — species.

Bishop Foster Friends receive special benefits, including a quarterly newsletter focused on the rehabilitating manatees, exclusive programs and unique merchandise.

More information is available at

About the Bishop
As the largest natural history museum on Florida's Gulf Coast, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature (formerly South Florida Museum) offers fun and engaging exhibitions and programs that interpret the scientific knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe. In addition to permanent exhibitions, The Bishop features a constantly changing lineup of special exhibitions — offering something new to discover with each visit.

The Bishop includes an all-digital Planetarium — the only one of its kind on Florida's Gulf Coast — the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat, where we help rehabilitate sick or injured manatees for their return to the wild, and the Mosaic Backyard Universe, built especially for young children and their families.

Our Mission: To inspire the joy of discovery and wonder for all ages through excellence in stewardship and engagement.

Visit for hours, info and admission details or call 941-746-4131.

Adults 18-64: $23.95 | Seniors (65+): $21.95 | Youth (12-17) and College Students (with ID): $17.95 | Children (5-11): $14.95 | Children age 2-4: $8.95 | Children younger than age 2 admitted free with paying adult.