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,” says Brynne Anne Besio, the museum’s CEO.
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 other three manatees undergoing rehabilitation in Snooty’s habitat — Randall, Baca and Gale — are all fine.
Officials held a press conference broadcast live on Facebook.
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 was born on July 21, 1948, at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company — the first recorded birth of a manatee in human care.
He moved to Bradenton in 1949. “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.
A necropsy, or animal autopsy, will be performed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory in St. Petersburg.