Florida has a true American treasure in the form of Snooty the manatee, who lives at the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton.
Snooty was born in 1948, making him the oldest manatee living in captivity and probably in the entire world. He weighs 1,100 pounds and is the official mascot of Manatee County. He also has a live webcam where you can watch him float around in his tank and do whatever else it is manatees do all day. (Sadly, the webcam is only online from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., so we’ll never know what Snooty gets up to at 3 in the morning.)
Though he has spent most of his life in Bradenton, Snooty is originally from Miami. His mother gave birth to him here shortly after she was wounded by a collision with a motorboat’s propeller, and the now-defunct Miami Aquarium took them both in. Unfortunately, its owner had a permit allowing him to keep one manatee, not two, so he donated Snooty to Manatee County, which apparently was in need of a mascot. A year later, the Miami Aquarium closed down, and Snooty’s mother disappeared into Biscayne Bay.
On Saturday, July 23, Snooty will celebrate his 68th birthday with a party at the South Florida Museum. This should be a pretty big event — last year, roughly 4,000 people showed up to honor Snooty. “We actually had some inclement weather last year, so there could be an even bigger crowd this year,” Jessica Schubick, the museum’s communications director, said.
Snooty’s diet is comprised primarily of lettuce, carrots, kale, and other greens, so he’s looking forward to celebrating his birthday with some fresh fruit (which, if you’re a manatee, is basically the equivalent of a slice of cake). “He has a bit of a sweet tooth, so he gets some special pineapples and strawberries that he wouldn’t usually have,” Schubick said.
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Two years ago, Snooty’s death was reported by Tampa Bay’s Fox 13 News after a post saying he had died appeared on an unofficial Snooty the Manatee fan page. Fortunately, it turned out to be a hoax. Why anyone would fake a manatee’s death is one of the great mysteries of life that we will likely never understand, but rest assured that Snooty is in excellent health and looking forward to his upcoming birthday.