Little understood in early U.S. history, the Florida manatee suffered at the hands of people. After the manatees were listed as endangered, scientists began to study manatees and gained much knowledge about them. With education efforts, the species then went from inspiring acts of cruelty to inspiring dedication and admiration among scientists, policymakers, and the interested public. The image of the manatee underwent a transformation. The social and cultural reinvention of the Florida manatees improved their chances for protection.