South Florida Museum Mourns the Death of Snooty,
the World’s Oldest Manatee
Snooty, the world’s oldest-known manatee, has died at age 69, officials with the South Florida Museum announced today. Snooty’s death was the result of a tragic accident and the circumstances are being investigated.
“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 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 more than a million visitors.
A necropsy, or animal autopsy, will be performed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory in St. Petersburg.
Throughout his life, Snooty contributed much to our understanding of manatees — not only did he participate in scientific research programs designed to help understand things like manatee hearing and vocalization, he also hosted other manatees that were being rehabilitated for return to the wild as part of the Manatee Rehabilitation Network.
The public may share their personal memories of Snooty on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SouthFLMuseum.
|Highlights of Snooty’s Life
July 21, 1948 Snooty is born on The Prinz Valdemar, a Danish warship that capsized in the Miami harbor in 1926 and later became a floating restaurant and the Miami Aquarium Tackle Company.
1949 ‘Baby Snoots’ comes to Bradenton for the Desoto Celebration and later makes his permanent home in an exhibit inside The South Florida Museum’s area at the Chamber of Commerce Pier Building.
1966 Snooty moves to the newly constructed South Florida Museum.
1979 Manatee County Commissioners declare Snooty to be the County’s official mascot.
1982 Snooty gains even wider fame when the children’s television show, Captain Kangaroo, films him as part of a documentary on manatees.
1985 A hydrophone placed in Snooty’s tank reveals for the first time the high-pitched squeaks as Snooty’s vocalization.
1987 Snooty begins training to aid researchers trying to determine how well manatees hear at different frequencies.
1993 Snooty moves into his newest home: a 60,000-gallon exhibit in the newly constructed Parker Manatee Aquarium.
1998 TheParker Manatee Aquarium joins the Manatee Rehabilitation Network and is introduced to his first tank mate, Newton. During his life, Snooty hosted 33 rehabilitating manatees.
2008 Snooty celebrates his 60th birthday at his annual Birthday Bash and Wildlife Festival. His life history makes him one of the most renowned stewards for endangered species and the environment.
2013 More than 6,000 guests visit the South Florida Museum to celebrate Snooty’s historic 65th birthday — the largest crowd the museum has ever seen and a testament to Snooty’s popularity in the community and beyond.
2015 Snooty is officially certified as the world’s oldest captive manatee by Guinness World Records.
2017 Snooty celebrates his 69th birthday.
About the South Florida Museum
As the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the South Florida Museum offers engaging exhibits as well as educational programs that interpret the scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe.
Visit SouthFloridaMuseum.org for hours, info and admission details or call 941-746-4131.