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South Florida Museum Mourns the Death of Snooty, the World’s Oldest-Known Manatee

Snooty, the world’s oldest-known manatee, died on July 23, 2017 at age 69.

“Baby Snoots” at the time of hist transfer to the South Florida Museum in 1949.

“Our initial findings indicate that Snooty’s death was a heartbreaking accident and we’re all devastated about his passing,” said Brynne Anne Besio, the Museum’s CEO. “We’re reviewing what happened and will be conducting a full review of 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. 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. “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.

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.

Snooty with his handler Marjorie Leigh in 1958.

“We have cared for Snooty since he was 11 months old and his health and safety has always been of the utmost importance to all of us here,” said Brynne Anne Besio, Museum CEO. “We have also successfully rehabilitated 30 manatees and continue to watch closely over the three manatees currently in our care. We are heartsick about Snooty’s death and want his legacy to continue through our manatee rehabilitation program and through all of our education and outreach programs.”

The Museum is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to house manatees and our exhibit and facilities are inspected annually. Our most recent inspection was conducted on June 5, 2017, and we were citation-free — everything was found to be in proper working order. The Museum has invited outside experts to assist in the review process, and is working with all regulatory agencies that have interest in the incident, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which inspects the Manatee Aquarium.

In addition to its own study and assessment, the Museum has initiated a third-party review process to look at the Aquarium’s procedures, protocols and facility. The team will include leading experts in the field of manatee care. The Museum asked leadership of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) — which is a cooperative group of nonprofit, private, state, and federal entities which works together for the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wild manatees (including the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) – for a recommendation for the process of the review.

The Museum has launched a living memorial to capture memories of the Snooty, the beloved manatee who passed away last week.  The memorial can be found at www.SouthFloridaMuseum.org/Remembering-Snooty. Photos and memories shared to this page will be assembled at a later date to document the unprecedented love that people around the world felt for this special animal. Photos and memories of Snooty can also be shared on the Museum’s Facebook page.

“There here has been an overwhelming outpouring of grief and mourning at the loss of Snooty, who was beloved around the world,” said Museum CEO Brynne Anne Besio. “The Museum staff and Board of Trustees share in this grief, as well as in the desire to cherish the memories of this special creature.”

Snooty Memorial Open House – POSTPONED DUE TO HURRICANE IRMA
Now scheduled for Sunday, September 24, 2017 from Noon – 5 p.m.

From noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, the South Florida Museum will host a special day of remembrance for Snooty. (Admission is free.)

“The Snooty Memorial Open House will pay tribute to Snooty’s legacy, while we celebrate his remarkable life and all that he has brought to the Museum and the world throughout his record-breaking 69 years,” said Brynne Anne Besio, Museum CEO.

This daylong celebration of Snooty’s life will include a visual tribute to Snooty that will be shown in the Museum’s Bishop Planetarium, opportunities for visitors to help create memorial projects honoring Snooty as well as visit the Parker Manatee Aquarium to learn more about Snooty’s true legacy: the Museum’s Manatee Rehabilitation Program.