Tragedy as Snooty, world's oldest manatee, dies in accident

Snooty the manatee.
Snooty the manatee. Photo credit: South Florida Museum

Sea cow fans around the world are in mourning as Snooty, the world's oldest-known manatee, has passed away in a tragic accident.

The beloved manatee died just a day after his 69th birthday, officials from the South Florida Museum announced.

Chief executive Brynne Anne Besio said they're all deeply mourning his passing.

"Snooty was such a unique animal and he had so much personality that people couldn't help but be drawn to him," she said.

"As you can imagine, I - and our staff, volunteers and board members - considered him a star."

Snooty's body was found in an area which is only used to access plumbing. Staff believe he was able to swim in after a panel which is kept bolted shut was somehow dislodged.

It was secure when the pool was inspected the day before and the investigation will look into how the panel got dislodged.

"Our initial findings indicate that Snooty's death was a heartbreaking accident and we're all quite devastated about his passing," Ms Besio said.

Snooty had been born at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company and made history as the first recorded manatee birth in human care - the first manatee to ever have a known birthday.

He moved several times in 1949 before shifting to the South Florida Museum, where he's lived ever since.

The museum says around a million people saw him in his lifetime.

Those mourning the loss of Snooty have been leaving flowers at the museum's entrance, according to comments on Facebook, while the museum itself has been closed to allow staff who knew him to grieve.

Snooty is survived by three other manatees being rehabilitated in his habitat - Randall, Baca and Gale.