BRUNO, THE only manatee that can be found in the Iberian Peninsula, now lives permanently at the Zoomarine Park in Guia, near Albufeira. He was born in May 2001 in a park in Singapore and, in January of this year, was moved to Portugal.
Weighing approximately 150kg and belonging to the Trichechus manatus manatus sub-species, Bruno is a member of one of the least studied types of manatees. They are herbivores and Bruno eats around 12kg of lettuce and small quantities of other vegetables a day.
Bruno, who loves to interact with his trainers, lives in a large swimming pool at the park, where he is being kept in quarantine, and is currently acclimatising himself to the new environment.
In the wild, manatees can be found in the Caribbean and in South America. However, there are very few living in their natural habit and, for this reason, they are on the official list of threatened species.
Manatees, who range in colour from grey to brown, use their two small front flippers to crawl along ocean and river bottoms, and their flat, horizontal tails to move them along. Despite their small eyes and outer ears, manatees are thought to see and hear very well.
Manatees can live to up to 60 years, measure an average of four metres long and weigh up to 1,500kg. They can live in the sea, but prefer the warm waters of shallow rivers, bays and estuaries.
Well known for their gentle, slow-moving nature, manatees rest and feed often. When excited or under threat, they communicate by squealing under water.
Anyone wanting to visit Bruno should go to Zoomarine, situated on the EN125 at Guia. For further information about the park, its animals and activities, visit www.zoomarine.com or call 289 560 301.