Rosie came to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park from Marsh Island Marineland in 1983, and she had been a year-round resident of the park since that time. At the time of her passing, she was considered among the oldest known manatees.
Rosie was known for being gentle, kind, and maternal. Affectionately called “The Matriarch,” by the park staff, she served as a surrogate mother to many orphaned or injured manatees who recuperated at the park. Although she was known for her gentle and polite personality, like every manatee, Rosie liked to eat. A humorous story about Rosie involved a feeding area at the park called the “Manatee Salad Bar.” One day, park staff noticed that Rosie, who had arrived first, was blocking the entrance so the other manatees couldn’t get in. She was so big, she took up the whole entranceway while happily munching away. The staff solved the problem by enlarging the netting on the salad bar, and now there is equal access for all manatees at mealtimes. This may be why she was such a last gal, weighing in at about 3,300 pounds last time she was checked! Adult manatees have been known to weigh over 3,500 pounds. However, this is quite above the norm. The average adult manatee weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds.
On December 18, 2015, we received the sad news that Rosie had passed away peacefully of natural causes due to her advanced age. Rosie had been part of Save the Manatee Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee® program since it started in 1984, and she touched the lives of countless numbers of people. She will be missed by the park staff as well as Save the Manatee Club staff and her numerous adoptive parents, including Helen Spivey, Co-Chair of our Board of Directors, who had adopted Rosie every year. “The best way I know to honor Rosie’s legacy is to ensure protection of, and manatee access to, warm water springs, since protecting manatee habitat is one of the most effective ways to protect manatees,” said Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “We can help by increasing public awareness about the importance of protecting Florida’s beautiful freshwater springs, rivers, and coastal waters for the benefit of both wildlife and people.”