Snooty at his 65th birthday in 2013, being presented a cake made of fruits and vegetables.
July 21, 1948 |
Miami, Florida, United States
|Residence||South Florida Museum, Bradenton, Florida, United States|
|Occupation||Mascot of Manatee County, Florida|
Snooty (born July 21, 1948) is a male Florida manatee that resides at the South Florida Museum's Parker Manatee Aquarium in Bradenton, Florida. He is one of the first recorded captive manatee births, and at age 66, he is the oldest manatee in captivity, and likely the oldest manatee in the world. Due to his hand rearing from birth, Snooty was never released to the wild and is the only manatee at the museum's aquarium that has regular human interaction.
Sometime during 1947 and 1948, Samuel Stout, owner of the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company, acquired a permit from the State of Florida to own a single manatee, a female he had named "Lady". On July 21, 1948, Lady gave birth to a male calf Stout named "Baby". Due to his permit only allowing him to keep a single manatee, he had to find a new home for the calf. Around the same time, the city of Bradenton in Manatee County wished to acquire a manatee for their 1949 De Soto Heritage Festival, and learned of the birth of Baby at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company.
After De Soto Celebration Association member Walter Hardin acquired a permit for a manatee exhibition the city built a tank on the municipal pier and arranged for Stout to bring Baby from Miami to Bradenton for the festival. Afterwards, Stout returned with the manatee to Miami, but Stout was still only legally allowed to keep a single manatee.
In April 1949, it was arranged that Baby would become a permanent resident of Bradenton's South Florida Museum, where a new 3,000 U.S. gallons (11,000 L) round tank was completed in May for Baby to begin living in on June 20, 1949. According to the book The Legacy: South Florida Museum, Stout arrived in Bradenton late at night and was unable to locate the museum's curator Dr. Lester Leigh to unlock the door, and received help from the sheriff and a group of prisoners to move Baby into his new home. The manatee remained named as just "Baby" through November 1949, after which he became known as "Baby Snoots", possibly from Stout, or popularly believed to have been inspired by Fanny Brice's The Baby Snooks Show. As the manatee aged, he became known simply as "Snooty".
In 1966, the South Florida Aquarium moved from the Bradenton Municipal Pier to its current location, and Snooty was given a new and larger 9,000 U.S. gallons (34,000 L) pool to live in. He was also granted official mascot status for Manatee County, Florida. In 1993, the museum underwent renovations, and Snooty was moved to his current 60,000 U.S. gallons (230,000 L) pool, which was renovated again in 1998 to allow for better care for Snooty and now two more companion manatees for rehabilitation in accordance with the Manatee Rehabilitation Network, the Sea to Shore Alliance, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Since 1998, starting with Newton, the Parker Manatee Aquarium has helped in rehabilitation for 25 manatees.
Due to Snooty's hand rearing from birth, he is too old to be released into the wild and is the only manatee in the aquarium that is allowed human interaction. It has been discovered that Snooty is able to remember the voices of former keepers and remember training behaviors he learned when only one year old.
Snooty has also been used in research with the Mote Marine Laboratory. In a 2006 study, it was shown that manatees such as Snooty were capable of experimental tasks much like dolphins, disproving the preconception that manatees are unintelligent.
Snooty's birthday is a popular event at the South Florida Museum, the highlight of which is the presentation of a cake made of vegetables and fruits for Snooty while the visitors all sing Happy Birthday for him. Due to his known date of birth, Snooty is evidence for how long manatees are able to live.
- Snooty the Manatee. South Florida Museum. ISBN 9-781569-444412.
- Thomas Peter Bennett. The Legacy: South Florida Museum. University Press of America. pp. 84–95. ISBN 9-780761-852612.
- Pitman, Craig (2008-07-18). "A manatee milestone: Snooty turning 60". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- Goode, Erica (2006-08-29). "Sleek? Well, No. Complex? Yes, Indeed". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
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