BRADENTON, Fla. — Snooty, Florida’s longest living manatee in captivity, has died one day after a huge party to celebrate his 69th birthday.
The South Florida Museum posted a Facebook message Sunday saying that the beloved manatee had died in a heartbreaking accident.
The museum’s website had the following information about Snooty:
“Our initial investigation indicates that Snooty’s death was a heartbreaking accident and we’re all quite devastated about his passing,” said Brynne Anne Besio, the Museum’s CEO. “We’re reviewing what happened and will be conducting a full investigation into the circumstances. Snooty was such a unique animal and he had so much personality that people couldn’t help but be drawn to him. As you can imagine, I — and our staff, volunteers and board members — considered him a star. We all deeply mourn his passing. We are honored to have had him with us for so long and will continue his legacy through our manatee rehabilitation program.”
Snooty was found in an underwater area only used to access plumbing for the exhibit life support system. Early indications are that an access panel door that is normally bolted shut had somehow been knocked loose and that Snooty was able to swim in. The other three manatees undergoing rehabilitation in Snooty’s habitat — Randall, Baca and Gale — are all fine.
Snooty’s habitat undergoes a daily visual inspection and there were no indications the previous day that there was anything amiss. The Aquarium will remain closed while Museum staff continues its investigation and staff who worked with him have an opportunity to grieve.
Snooty had previously been in good health, eating about 80 pounds of lettuce and vegetables every day to sustain his 1,000-pound body. He loved to greet his visitors and ham it up for the cameras.
Snooty was born in Miami and has never lived in the wild.