Officials at the South Florida Museum have announced that just one day after his 69th birthday celebration, Snooty, the worlds oldest living Manatee has died. In a post on Facebook, museum officials confirmed that Snooty’s death was in fact, a tragic accident. In a statement released by Brynne Anne Besio, the Museum’s CEO said; “Our initial findings indicate that Snooty’s death was a heartbreaking accident and we’re all quite devastated about his passing.”
Ms. Besio said she has ordered a full investigation into the events and circumstances surrounding Snooty’s death to determine if any new safeguards need to be implemented to insure the safety of other animals. Early indications suggest that a bolted panel became dislodged allowing Snooty to swim into an underwater area normally used to access plumbing for the exhibit life support system. It is not known just how the panel become dislodged.
Officials say Snooty was found in the access-way and was apparently unable to get back through the hatch. The investigation will focus on just how the hatch got open in the first place. The museum says it doesn’t believe the manatee’s death was the result of any malicious activity but they want to make sure nothing like this can happen again.
There are three other manatees currently undergoing rehabilitation efforts in Snooty’s habitat and according to staff, Randall, Baca and Gale are all fine. Snooty was a real celebrity and photos of him were regularly posted on the museum’s social media account including several that had to do with his upcoming birthday bash. Snooty was believed to be the the “Oldest Living Manatee in Captivity” according to the Guinness World Records. He had just turned 69 on July 21st one day before his death.
Over 5,000 people attended a party for the much-loved manatee on Saturday. Born in 1948, at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company he was the first recorded birth of a manatee in human care. Later he was moved to Bradenton in 1949 and was named “Baby Snoots” becoming a permanent resident of the South Florida Museum. In 1979, he became Manatee County’s official mascot.
Officials said, an autopsy will be performed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory in St. Petersburg to determine the exact cause of his death and his overall health at the time. The aquarium will remain closed as the museum conducts its investigation and allow staff members to grieve.