Massachusetts teen helps Bradenton's Snooty the manatee

jajones1@bradenton.comAugust 29, 2012 

MANATEE -- Snooty, the 64-year-old manatee at the Parker Aquarium, probably doesn't have a clue that a 13-year-old girl from North Adams, Mass., is in his corner.

Nor does he have any idea, as far as we know, that a tropical storm came this way this week, or that there is a political convention under way in Tampa.

But Snooty, you should know that Jackie Rich cares deeply about you.

And has since she was 2 or 3.

For the past decade, Jackie has been coming south to visit her grandparents, Sandy and Irwin Livon of Lakewood Ranch. And for all those years, a visit to Snooty has been a highly anticipated highlight.

"Since she was a little girl, we have been taking her to see the manatee," Sandy Livon said Tuesday. "When I had to pick a license tag for my car, Jackie wanted it to be a manatee."

For her bat mitzvah, Jackie wanted to do something

for manatees.

She decided she would try to raise money for them by designing, making and selling jewelry to street vendors around Massachusetts.

She recently donated the proceeds of the jewelry sales, $1,000, to the Parker Aquarium at the South Florida Museum to help feed Snooty and poolmates Epac and Charlie.

"Snooty is amazing," Jackie said. "He's the oldest manatee we know. He can be really helpful when you think about how few manatees we have left. We can learn about Snooty in captivity and have more manatees for future generations."

Jackie's mother, Maude Rich, had only one stipulation for the manatee project: Jackie had to stay on the high honor roll.

No problem there.

"She followed it through by herself, 100 percent," Maude Rich said.

The donation to the museum's summer fundraising campaign helps to support its manatee care program.

"This donation will do a lot for the our manatee care program including providing them with food, medical visits and more," said Marilyn Margold, director of living collections at the Museum, in a news release.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet @jajones1

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