|Snooty the manatee|
|Snooty, the oldest known manatee, receives his 65th birthday "cake" in the background which is sculpted of fruits and vegetables.|
Snooty is a Florida Manatee (a sub-species of the West Indian Manatee), that resides at the South Florida Museum's Parker Manatee Aquarium in Bradenton, Florida. Born at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company on July 21, 1948 , Snooty was one of the first recorded captive manatee births. Snooty is the oldest manatee in captivity, and likely the oldest manatee in the world. Because Snooty is not going to be released into the wild, he is the only manatee at the aquarium that is allowed to interact with human handlers.
A Star is Born
Sometime during 1947-48, the owner of the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company, Samuel Stout, acquired a manatee named Lady. The large female was captured by Stout on a valid permit from the Florida State Department of Conservation and displayed at the aquarium. Shortly after her capture, on July 21, 1948, Lady gave birth to a male which was referred to simply as Baby. Stout's permit allowed him to own and display a single manatee, but now he had two.
At the same time, the Manatee County De Soto Heritage Festival committee, in the planning stages for the 1949 festival, was searching for a Manatee and learned about the two manatees at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company. By early February of 1949, Walter Hardin of the DeSoto Celebration Association arranged for permits for a manatee exhibition, the installation of an exhibition tank at the Bradenton Municipal Pier, and the transport of Baby by Samuel Stout. Publicity surrounded Stout's trip from Miami and the trip itself was an event. A sign on the side of Stout's truck advertised the manatee being transported to the DeSoto Festival in Bradenton. He made frequent stops along the route to change Baby's water supply and large crowds gathered to see his manatee passenger. Stout and Baby finally arrived in Bradenton around midnight the day before the celebration.
Baby was a hit during the celebration, but returned to Miami after the festival ended. During this time though, the controversy around Stout's "extra manatee" increased. By April, arrangements had been made to return Baby to the South Florida Museum at the pier as a permanent resident. A 3,000 gallon round tank was completed by the end of May, and Baby returned to Bradenton for good on June 20. Stout arrived at the museum late at night and could not locate the new manatee curator, Dr. Lester Leigh, to unlock the door. With Baby waiting in the truck, the sheriff who had met Stout at the pier broke into the museum and, with the help of volunteer prisoners, the men carried Baby off the truck and into his waiting tank and new home.
The Origin of the Name
The manatee continued to be referred to as Baby through November of 1949 when his name became Baby Snoots. The name may have originated with Stout or, according to popular legend, the name was inspired by the snoot of the manatee along with a popular radio show, The Baby Snooks Show, which starred comedienne Fanny Brice in the late 1940s. As yet, no definitive source for the name change has been documented. As he got older, the popular manatee's name was changed to Snooty. 
The Evolution of the Aquarium
By 1960, Snooty and the South Florida Museum both had outgrown the small space at the Municipal Pier. A new facility was constructed near the pier at the museum's current location, and the Museum and Snooty moved into the facility in 1966. Now 18 years old, the manatee enjoyed a larger 12 foot by 20 foot pool which held 9,000 gallons of water. Snooty was the official mascot of Manatee County, and entertained and educated thousands of visitors and school children over the years.
In 1993 a sweeping redesign of the aquarium was completed along with the present 60,000 gallon pool which Snooty still calls home. Further renovation in 1998 enhanced the display and spectator areas of the aquarium to their current standard. With the larger pool, the Parker Manatee Aquarium is designed to house up to three adult manatees, and includes a medical pool which can be used to isolate a manatee and lower the water level. This makes veterinary exams and procedures easier to accomplish and less stressful for the animal. The main pool offers both shallows and deep water so that resident manatees can engage in a wider variety of natural social and feeding behaviors.
In February 1998, as part of the Manatee Rehabilitation Network, Snooty welcomed his first pool-mate, Newton. As part of the network, the Parker Manatee Aquarium is considered a tier rehabilitation facility where no critical veterinary care is provided, but where young, healthy animals can grow and acclimate to the wild environment and behaviors they will need when they return to the wild. Snooty has shared his pool with more than 25 young manatees including Mo, Palma Sola, Desoto Park, Salvador, Angelito, Fort Myers Baby, Passe Grille Baby, Whitaker, Muddy Baron, Little Coral, Baby Coral, Snitch, Baby Sister, Coral Lee, Little Nap, Bolee, Cayman, Teco 2, Dese, Brandee, UPC Guacara, Charlie, Epac, Cheeno and Longo. These manatees were rescued for various reasons; rehabilitated at the Parker Manatee Aquarium and released back into the wild in association with the Sea to Shore Alliance and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service. The Manatee Rehabilitation Network gives several updates on a some of the released manatees, and is available online at www.wildtracks.org. 
Snooty's Special Status
Snooty's ability to remember the voices of former keepers, tricks he learned when only one year old, and his affectionate and friendly nature have helped visitors understand and appreciate the intelligence and unique characteristics of the manatee. Snooty has participated in research in association with the Mote Marine Laboratory staff, contributing to our knowledge of manatees. Studies there have disproven the long-standing idea that manatees, having the smallest brain-to-body ratio, were dim-witted: thanks to manatees such as Snooty, Hugh and Buffett (ages 58, 22 and 19 in 2006), neuroscientists and biologists have concluded that manatees are "as adept at experimental tasks as dolphins." In addition to Snooty's contributions to science, he is also the subject of informative talks given several times daily to visitors of all ages, covering everything from eating habits and reproduction to physiology. Snooty's diet consists primarily of romaine lettuce, kale, and cabbage, with smaller amounts of broccoli, carrots and sweet potato as treats.
Snooty's birthday is a popular annual event for the Museum. Each year, several generations of visitors help Snooty celebrate his birthday at a free Birthday Bash and Wildlife Awareness Festival, complete with a birthday card contest, entertainment by local groups like The Garbage-Men, and treats for the kids. The highlight of the celebration comes when the visitors sing Happy Birthday To You to Snooty and he is presented with a "cake" sculpted entirely of vegetables with some fruit garnish for the special occasion. Since Snooty is the oldest manatee born in captivity, and hence the oldest whose birthday we know for a fact, he sets a new record each day for how long manatees are known 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. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
- Erica Goode: "Sleek? Well, No. Complex? Yes, Indeed" New York Times,August 29, 2006 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/science/29mana.html
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