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World’s oldest-known manatee dies in ‘heartbreaking accident’

BRADENTON, Fla. – Snooty, the world’s oldest-known manatee, died Saturday. His death comes one day after the museum celebrated his 69th birthday.

Officials with the South Florida Museum say Snooty’s death was accidental and the circumstances are 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. “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.”

The manatee was found in an underwater area only used to access plumbing for the exhibit life support system. An access panel door that is normally bolted shut had somehow been knocked loose and Snooty was able to swim in.

A necropsy will be performed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The three other manatees in Snooty’s habitat are all okay.

Snooty, then known as “Baby Snoots,” was born on July 21, 1948 at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company. He moved to Bradenton as part of the 1949 Desoto Celebration and later that year moved to the South Florida Museum’s care.