Snooty has Fostered 26 Rehabilitating Manatees
South Florida Museum
Snooty, the world’s oldest known manatee, has been a permanent resident of Bradenton’s South Florida Museum since 1949.
On July 19th, the museum will celebrate Snooty’s 66th birthday with Snooty’s 66th Birthday Bash, Arts and Wildlife Awareness Festival.
The world’s oldest known manatee was born in an aquarium on July 21, 1948 on the Prinz Valdemar, a Danish warship that had been turned into a floating restaurant and aquarium.
Snooty has been a vibrant member of the community since arriving at the South Florida Museum in 1949. He was declared Manatee County’s official mascot by the county commissioners on April 4, 1979 – nearly 30 years after his arrival in Manatee County.
“Snooty is a one-of-a-kind animal,” said the museum’s executive director, Brynne Anne Besio. “Not only does he make history every day as the oldest-known manatee in the world, but he also provides valuable insight into the health and life cycle of all manatees. Researchers are able to work with Snooty in a hands-on manner that is not permissible for the wild, endangered manatee population.”
“Snooty holds a special place in the hearts of people from around the world. We hear from locals who grew up celebrating Snooty’s birthday each year and are so pleased that they can now share the Birthday Bash with their own children - but we also receive birthday cards and greetings from people around the world, from San Diego to Scotland to South America. Last year, we received photos of a Birthday party for Snooty in Illinois. This day is celebrated far and wide and it’s an honour for South Florida Museum to share it with the world.”
In 1998, the museum’s Parker Manatee Aquarium became part of a Florida network for taking care of sick and injured manatees, the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership. Snooty was introduced to his first companion, Newton, in that year. Snooty has since fostered 26 manatees undergoing rehabilitation. He currently shares his pool with two young male manatees, Cheeno and Longo. Both were rescued from central Florida waters suffering from cold stress.
Snooty’s life history has made him one of the most renowned stewards for endangered species and the environment. Snooty is a West Indian manatee - a species divided into the two subspecies of Florida manatees and Antillian (or Caribbean) manatees. Both subspecies of West Indian manatees are endangered species and have been the subjects of great conservation efforts.
Manatees have suffered from the repercussions of natural and human threats, including red tide, cold waters, boat strikes and hunting. According to state experts, the average Florida manatee now only reaches the age of approximately eight years old. As manatees reach reproductive maturity at around five years old, with a one year gestation period and two years of mother raising calf, most manatees are lucky if they are able to successfully produce one offspring.
While manatees in the wild are capable of living much longer lives under ideal conditions, Snooty is one-of-a-kind at 66 years old. No manatees have been documented in the wild or in zoos and aquariums at such a ripe old age.