'Snooty,' world's oldest manatee, dies in Florida at 69
Posted July 23
Updated July 24
Bradenton, Fla. — "Snooty," the oldest manatee in the world, has died at age 69.
Snooty called the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida home for 68 years.
"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 museum said in a press release. "Snooty's habitat undergoes a daily visual inspection and there were no indications the previous day that there was anything amiss."
Snooty had previously been in good health, eating about 80 pounds (35 kilograms) of lettuce and vegetables every day to sustain his 1,000-pound (450-kilogram) body. He loved to greet his visitors and ham it up for the cameras. On Saturday, he devoured a tiered fruit and vegetable cake as thousands of guests attended his birthday bash.
"Snooty was such a unique animal and he had so much personality that people couldn't help but be drawn to him," said Brynne Anne Besio, the Museum's CEO.
"We have been greeting adults at the door so they can share the heartbreaking news with their kids in a way they see fit," said a museum spokesperson. "The entire staff is heartbroken."
Snooty, who is certified as the oldest manatee ever to live in captivity and believed to be the oldest manatee on record anywhere, was loved by both natives and others around the country. Manatees usually die in their teens in the wild.
"We have given out a lot of hugs on the front porch of the museum today," the spokesperson said in a news conference.
Snooty's body will undergo an autopsy, and, while officials will be investigating the reason for his death, they will also study his incredible life span to help other animals live as long.
Museum staff said they are planning ways for fans around the country to share their memories of Snooty.