Snooty the Manatee at the South Florida Museum

Snooty is the world's oldest captive manatee






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Snooty the Manatee

Snooty is an internationally-famous manatee raised in captivity longer than any other manatee in the world.

He lives at the South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium in Bradenton just north of Sarasota.

Snooty was born in 1948 in Miami. His life has been anything but normal.

His mother was injured by a boat shortly before Snooty's birth, so he had to be taken by caesarian from his mother, who died six hours after the 60-pound calf was born.

Snooty began life inside a tank. Back in the 1940s, that was a dangerous place for any baby manatee to be.

Until this time, every manatee ever born in captivity had died before reaching maturity.

In 1949, Snooty (called Baby Snoots) was moved to the town of Bradenton and the South Florida Museum. For the next 17 years his existence was hardly a happy one, living alone in a small cramped tank.

His living quarters improved slightly in 1966 when the museum expanded and Snooty received a larger 12 by 20-foot pool.

Then, in the fall of 1993, Snooty moved into much more expansive quarters, a 60,000 gallon, 40 x 25-foot pool with both deep and shallow ends.

The pool was part of the new Manatee Education and Research Facility, which features above and below water viewing. Also on display are exhibits on manatee habitat, physiology and anatomy.

Perhaps the greatest change for Snooty was that, to meet federal standards, he was given the opportunity for the company of another manatee for the first time in his life.

Ironically, people had often joked that Snooty might not know he was a manatee. For virtually all of his life, his only companions were humans.

He's had a number of pool-mates, including Newton, Mo, Palma Sola, Desoto Park, Salvador and Angelito. All were rescue animals that were eventually rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Today, the nine-foot long, 1,000-pound plus Snooty appears to be truly enjoying life as the Museum's star attraction. He has two new manatee companions for company.

Snooty is Manatee County's mascot and a standard part of the local classroom curriculum for grades 1 through 3. Over a million visitors have seen him.

In turn, Snooty shows keen interest in his visitors, sometimes using his flippers to draw himself closer to a person at the edge of his tank.

Snooty's annual birthday party has become a major area tradition. His birthday features free cupcakes, punch and a birthday card contest. It is held the Saturday closest to July 21, his actual birthday. The public is invited.

On a normal day, Snooty eats between 80 and 100 pounds of food. His diet includes heads of romaine lettuce, carrots and apples. He also receives snacks of monkey chow and vitamin supplements.

See the Snooty Underwater Cam live from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This link also shows the days and times of the special manatee programs that include feeding and a "Touch "Tank" presentation.

Contact info: The South Florida Museum is located at 201 10th Street West, Bradenton 34205. For information, call 941/746-4131. Website

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