BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) – Snooty, Florida’s longest living manatee in captivity, has died one day after a huge party to celebrate his 69th birthday.
The South Florida Museum posted a Facebook message Sunday saying that the beloved manatee had died in a heartbreaking accident.
“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 review of the circumstances.”
Snooty was found in an underwater area only used to access plumbing for the exhibit life support system, according to a press release from the museum. Early indications are that a panel that is kept bolted shut had somehow been dislodged 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 had previously been in good health, eating about 80 pounds of lettuce and vegetables every day to sustain his 1,000-pound body. He loved to greet his visitors and ham it up for the cameras.
Snooty was born in Miami and has never lived in the wild.