A Cause for Celebration
Someone’s having a birthday on July 21st and everyone is invited!
It’s Snooty the Manatee, and according to Parker Aquarium, where Snooty lives, in addition to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Guinness World Records, he is officially the World’s Oldest Manatee. Ever.
Snooty is turning 69 (is there a manatee chapter of AARP?); the next oldest manatee ever recorded lived in the wild and died at the age of 59. The next oldest lived to only 48.
Which makes Snooty very special…and a bit of a mystery. What contributes to his long life?
No one knows for sure, but it’s thought that his controlled environment while living at Parker Aquarium is a major factor in his longevity. Whatever the reason, it’s cause for celebration when a Florida manatee, once endangered but recently upgraded to threatened, lives to such an age.
Meet Snooty Manatee
Way back in 1947, Miami Aquarium acquired an injured manatee. They named her Lady and found out she was pregnant! She gave birth to a calf while in captivity that the aquarium staff named, simply, Baby.
Unfortunately, Baby could not stay at Miami Aquarium, since it was allowed to keep only one manatee. Enter the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida. A 3,000-gallon exhibit tank was built for Baby, and he was moved to the museum in 1949.
Soon, he acquired the nickname “Baby Snoots” which eventually became “Snooty”. He was not given much of a chance to survive, but luckily he beat all odds!
As Florida developed a manatee rescue and rehabilitation program, the Parker Aquarium (officially called the Parker Aquarium Manatee Education and Research Facility) was built by the South Florida Museum.
In 1993, Snooty Manatee moved into his new home: a 60,000-gallon tank at the aquarium, where he has been joined over the years by many other rescued and rehabbed manatees who are eventually returned to the wild.
Today, Snooty enjoys visits from as many people per year as there are gallons in his tank. Everyone loves Snooty Manatee!
Fun Manatee Facts
So what exactly is a manatee, anyway? Well, they are also called “sea cows”, but they are not remotely related to cows. In fact, they are related to elephants!
Their thick, wrinkled skin can be covered by algae, and they are able to crawl through shallow water. The three species of manatee are:
- Amazonian manatee
- West African manatee
- West Indian manatee (of which Snooty, as a Florida manatee, is a subspecies of)
The Florida manatee is the state marine mammal.
Other fun facts about manatees include:
- Unlike people, manatees have only one kind of teeth: molars. New ones grow in at the back after old ones at the front of the mouth fall out
Manatees weigh up to 1,200 pounds
- Their brain/body size ratio is lower than any other mammal (but they are not dumb and can be taught basic tasks)
- Calves nurse from their mothers for two years
- Along with the tree sloth, manatees are the only other mammal that does not have the normal seven neck vertebrae (they have six; tree sloths have between eight and ten)
Manatees have no natural known predators–humans are their only threat. Thus, when they were close to extinction, it was solely due to human causes (boat collisions are a common cause of manatee deaths).
Join In the Festivities
To commemorate this incredible, unique manatee, the South Florida Museum is hosting a free festival in honor of his 69th birthday on July 22, 2017–one day after Snooty’s official birthday.
This is an outdoor event that will include food, free cookies and juice for kids, and fun games and art activities. There’ll even be a Snooty the Manatee Mascot Contest! More activities are planned; this is a celebration you and your family will not want to miss.
In addition, you can visit Snooty at a reduced admission rate and wish him a “Happy Birthday” in person!
Make Snooty feel as special as he truly is and come to the museum at 201 10th St W, Bradenton, FL on Saturday, July 22nd, between 10 am and 2 pm. Help him usher in the last year of his sixth decade on Earth. Snooty would love to see you!