SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Canola the manatee, hand-raised by her carers since she was abandoned by her mother at birth, celebrated her third birthday at Singapore’s River Safari on Wednesday with a 2-metre (6.6-ft) high “cake” made of cabbages, carrots and sweet potato leaves.
The marine mammal enjoyed the crunchy treat shaped in a letter ‘C’ with other manatees at the river-themed attraction.
Kindergarten children who attended the celebrations sang “Happy Birthday” to the 300-kg (661-pound) herbivore and watched her receive belly rubs.
After her mother, Eva, abandoned her at birth, Canola was hand-raised by keepers who bottle-fed her every two to three hours during the first three months of her life.
Canola was fed a special milk formula infused with canola oil, which gave her carers the inspiration for her name.
She is now ten times as heavy as when she was born.
Last year, Canola was named a park icon at the River Safari in the small city-state, becoming a wildlife ambassador to encourage the public to keep the world’s freshwater habitats pristine.
Commonly known as sea cows due to their diet of sea grass, manatees are currently listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
(This version of the story was corrected to clarify that the was manatee abandoned at birth, it also deletes reference to Singapore Zoo and corrects that children were from a kindergarten, not primary school)
(Writing by Karishma Singh; Editing by Nick Macfie)