Our initial investigation indicates that Snooty’s death was a heartbreaking accident. He 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 kept bolted shut was dislodged and that Snooty was able to swim in, but there was insufficient space for him to turn around. We’re reviewing what happened and will be continuing to look into the circumstances surrounding his death.
Snooty’s habitat undergoes a daily visual inspection and there were no indications the previous day that anything was amiss. The other three manatees undergoing rehabilitation in Snooty’s habitat — Randall, Baca and Gale — are all fine.
Snooty was born on July 21, 1948, at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company — the first recorded birth of a manatee in human care. He moved to Bradenton in 1949. “Baby Snoots,” as he was then known, was brought to Bradenton as part of the 1949 Desoto Celebration and later that year he moved permanently to the South Florida Museum’s care. In 1979, he became Manatee County’s official mascot.
During his lifetime, he greeted up to two million visitors at the Museum and on the Snooty Cam and we are honored to have had him with us for so long. We will continue his legacy through our manatee rehabilitation program.
I know you share in my profound sadness over Snooty’s passing. We will soon share information about plans for a special memorial to honor his legacy and hope that you will share your thoughts and memories of Snooty on our Facebook page.
Brynne Anne Besio
CEO South Florida Museum