Featured Image Credit: kobeemanatee.com
By Sarah Sharkey
Snooty, an old manatee, was quite the celebrity at South Florida Museum. His home was in Bradenton, Manatee County, Florida. Everyone loved him and he became the unofficial mascot of Manatee County.
Snooty recently celebrated his 69th birthday, making him the oldest known manatee in the world. However Snooty died in his aquarium home two days following his birthday.
The beloved manatee was found on Sunday morning. Staff members found him before the aquarium was opened to the public.
It seems that he became trapped underwater in an opening that has usually covered by a sealed panel.
The museum staff members were unable to explain why the panel was open at all, it had been five years since the panel had last been opened. Somehow the panel came off though, and Snooty went exploring.
The 1,300 pound manatee got stuck in the new opening and was unable to swim backwards out of the hole or turn himself around once he was stuck inside. Manatees are able to hold their breath for up to 20 minutes, but it wasn’t enough time for Snooty to escape. There will be an autopsy, but it appears that the manatee drowned.
We may never know how the panel came loose because the security cameras around the tank are shut off at night. The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected the tank on June 5th and everything seemed to be fine. Divers did a visual inspection of the tank on Saturday morning and again everything seemed to be fine.
Jeff Rogers, a museum official, said “I assure you, we are leaving no stone unturned. Our focus right now is on staff and on the care of the manatees, and really looking from all sides what happened so we can ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
It is truly a sad story, and the public is mourning in the days following Snooty’s passing, too, with “tributes” left by fans, enough for a small memorial in his memory.
— Jess Doudrick (@JessDoudrick) July 25, 2017
An appropriate (and more official) memorial will be created, but the details are forthcoming.