South Florida Museum attributes famous manatee's death to an accident.
Only a day after a special ceremony to commemorate his 69th birthday at the South Florida Museum, the world's oldest known manatee, Snooty, died in an accident.
The South Florida Museum announced Sunday that Snooty's tragic accident was 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, in a press release. “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.”
According to the release, "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."
The aquarium will be closed while museum workers complete their investigation.
Perhaps the world's most famous manatee, Snooty was born July 21, 1948 at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company as the first recorded birth of a manatee in human care, according to the release. Snooty came to Bradenton as part of the 1949 Desoto Celebration and was moved permanently to the South Florida Museum for care. He became Manatee County's official mascot in 1979.
According to museum statistics, more than a million people have visited him at the museum.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation will complete an autopsy.
The museum ask Snooty's fans to leave personal memories at facebook.com/SouthFLMuseum.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.