Review of Snooty’s death




Submitted to



South Florida Museum




August 25, 2017






















James F. Gesualdi, P.C. Attorney at Law

Islip, Long Island, New York






I.          Introduction

II.        Background / Context

a.    The South Florida Museum b.    The Manatee Program

c.    The Manatee Facility / Pool Complex

d.     Manatee Care / Aquarium Staff i.            Staff

ii.          Attending Veterinarian

iii.          Interns

iv.          Volunteers

v.          Facilities Staff

e.    Manatee-related forms, policies and protocols f.     Dive Practices

III. Developments of Note

a.    Staff knowledge and understanding about the cave b.    Staff experience with the panel

c.    July 16-24, 2017

IV.       Findings

V.        Moving Forward / Recommendations

a.   Organizational Commitment and Culture

i.   Mission and Vision Statements and Ethics Policy

ii.   Establish a Living Collections Committee on the Board

iii.   Create an executive level Animal Welfare Officer position b.   Functional Separation

i.   Separate animal care and education functions c.   Communications and Coordination

i.   Weekly Aquarium Meeting agenda items

ii.   Facilities participation in Weekly Aquarium Meetings d.   The Manatee Facility

i.   Assess manatee facility condition

ii.   Third-party expert inspection of manatee facility

iii.   Establish more formalized, comprehensive, preventative maintenance program

e.   Staff training and development

i.   Enhanced training and written guidance ii.   Revise warning about cave area

iii.   Cross-training

iv.   Utilizing recently published resources

v.   Professional development opportunities f.    Recordkeeping and Reporting

i.   Daily dive log review

ii.   Dive log entries / checklist



iii.   Immediate reporting

iv.   Create repair list / record

v.   Periodic retrospective record review g.   Other Practices

i.   Revise current method of dives to clean the manatee pool so that start, direction and end point of dive are noted in dive log

ii.   Commence interdepartmental effort to self-inspect for AWA compliance h.   Contributing to the Greater Good

i.   Offer to provide dedicated support to the MRP

ii.   Host Conference / Workshop

VI.       Conclusion





The Museum’s values as professed in its current Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020 underscore the basis for this report.


We have the strength to do what is right even in the face of adversity.


South Florida Museum

Strategic Plan 2016 - 20201


I.         Introduction


This is to report on the review of Snooty’s tragic death on or about July 23, 2017.


This report is based upon a site visit to the South Florida Museum (the “Museum”) and the manatee facility; interviews and conversations with more than a dozen Museum staff and leaders, including all manatee care staff, key facility staff and executive staff and the consulting veterinarian; review of Museum records, documents, visual information and other materials.


The report discusses the Museum’s manatee program, developments of note, findings as to contributing factors to Snooty’s death, and recommended actions for Museum consideration (in consultation with others, as appropriate).


It is understood that nothing reported or recommended here can reverse what happened on or about July 23, 2017.  It is however respectfully submitted that there is much thoughtful, constructive action related to this incident that can and should be undertaken to give even greater meaning to Snooty’s life and legacy.



























1 At page 9.




II.        Background / Context


Snooty was born in 1948, first arrived in Bradenton, Florida in 1949, and was permanently placed in the newly constructed Museum in 1966.  Snooty was the world’s oldest living manatee in human care, attaining the age of 69 years.  Snooty was much beloved i n South Florida’s Gulf Coast communities and throughout the world.  The Manatee County Commissioners named Snooty the County’s official mascot in 1979.  During his life and remarkable longevity Snooty enlightened and inspired generations.


a.         The South Florida Museum


The Museum was established in 1946 and is the “largest natural and cultural history museum on

Florida’s Gulf Coast.”


The Museum’s high ideals are reflected in its Mission and Vision statements, and Ethics Policy which set forth its commitment to the highest professional standards.


The Ethics Policy contains one animal-specific provision: Living Collections

Animal research, acquisition and disposition in [the Museum’s] Living Collections fall under the guidelines of USDA, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the attending veterinarian.  Exhibited animals are displayed for educational purposes or as part of a rehabilitation program.


b.         The Manatee Program


The Museum website reports:


Working closely with US Fish and Wildlife and critical care hospitals for manatees, the Museum’s Parker Manatee Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility. A second stage facility provides a temporary home for manatees that will be released back into the wild after having received treatmen t from an acute care hospital. The Aquarium has housed 33 manatees as part of the rehabilitation program.


Through its manatee rehab work and related activities, the Museum joined the Manatee Rehabilitation Network in 1998.  The Museum is a founding member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (the “MRP”), which formed in 2001.  The MRP is a “cooperative group of 16 non-profit, private, state, and federal entities with a stake in tracking the post -release fate of rehabilitated manatees in the wild.  The MRP . . . monitors the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees and serves as the group that manages the rehabilitation program under the auspices of the USFWS and FWC.”  Rehab manatees reside at the Museum



until it is determined they are ready for release back to the wild.  Because of its location on Florida’s Gulf Coast and its proximity to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo’s critical care facility, the Museum is uniquely situated to assist in caring for rehab manatees.


c.         The Manatee Facility / Pool Complex


The Parker Manatee Aquarium was constructed in 1993 and holds nearly 60,000 gallons of fresh water, including a medical pool. The main pool “offers both deep and shallow water, allowing the manatees to maintain natural feeding behaviors.”  The pool has both a chiller and a heater to allow the water to be kept at temperatures suitable for the manatees.


The shallow area shelf portion of the facility runs from the “[med] pool, in front of the feeding platform and under the docks” and is constructed above a “compartment” or “cave” area which contains a large pipe and water which has limited exchange circulation with the open areas of the pool complex.  (Hereafter, this compartment shall be referred to as the “cave ,” as that is the term generally used by staff.)  The entire cave is underwater.  The only access to this area is through a

30” by 30” panel on the side of the cave which initially was removed once or twice monthly to allow a diver access to vacuum out manatee and food waste accumulating within the cave.  It appears the panel was secured by screws in each of the four corners of the panel, and those screws would be removed to open the panel and refastened to secure it following cleaning operations.  Slats were affixed diagonally behind each corner of the panel, presumably to further secure the screws.  It was reported that a PVC barrier would be dropped into the pool when the panel was open to keep the manatees from following the diver into the cave.


It was determined during pool renovations in late May 2010 that the modest water quality improvement attributable to periodic cleaning operations in the cave did not justify the risks associated with diving in a confined, dark space with little if any visibility.  Consequently, cleaning operations in the cave were discontinued.  Following this change in procedure the panel apparently was simply closed and screwed in place.  According to the staff involved in this review, subsequent to the 2010 closure of the panel there is no record or recollection of the panel being removed or completely off other than on the morning of July 23, 2017.


d.         Manatee Care / Aquarium Staff


i.          Staff


The Museum has a small but dedicated staff responsible for manatee and aquarium care and life support.  These six positions include a mix of full and “part -time” staffers including a Director, Assistant Curator, three Manatee Care Specialists and an Aquarist.  The Director generally oversees the department, including training, safety protocols and handles contacts with MRP and regulatory agencies.  The Assistant Curator assists with administrative support, especially with interns and volunteers.  It should be noted that both the Director and Assistant Curator also perform and assist in Manatee Care Specialist duties.  Staff responsibilities include food preparation, animal care and observation-related tasks, educational presentations regarding the manatees, monitoring water quality and life support equipment, and diving the tank to clean and



vacuum manatee and food waste to help maintain sufficient water quality in the manatee pool complex, and to undertake minor repairs.


The staff consists of caring individuals, all of whom have relevant academic, field, professional, research and/or volunteer experience with animals (including manatees), aquaculture, conservation and environmental matters.


Staff training is limited and largely includes shadowing more senior staff and learning on the job. There are manatee-specific policies, protocols and some written information on practices which are provided to staff, but these materials do not appear to be contained in any one document or resource.  (These are discussed further in a subsequent section.)  There is, however, an Aquarium Intern Handbook (the “Handbook”) which does house a good deal of relevant information in one binder to assist in familiarizing interns with their roles.  As new staff progress with their “training,” existing staff use and sign off on a training checklist of specific areas/responsibilities to indicate staff progress.  These areas include “Safety,” “Food Prep,” “Chemistries,” “Feeding: Snooty,” “Rehabs,” “Cleaning,” “Log Sheets,” “Animal Information,” and “Handbook.”


In May 2017 the Aquarium staff began holding weekly meetings to foster enhanced communications and coordination.  Attendees generally included the Director, Assistant Curator, Manatee Care Specialists, and Aquarist.  An administrator often attends.  Summary notes of the meetings are prepared and filed.  These notes record key discussion points and action items.

Over time a wide variety of topics have been covered.  For example, on May 23, 2017, topics of

discussion included daily logs as well as a living collections exhibit committee with “staff from throughout the [M]useum”.  On August 8, 2017, one action item reported in the weekly meeting notes was “Laminate visual inspection checklist.”


ii.         Attending Veterinarian


The Museum has had the same consulting veterinarian caring for Snooty and all the rehab manatees since 1993.  The veterinarian already had considerable manatee-related care experience at the time retained.


iii.        Interns


According to the Handbook, interns “assist staff with general husbandry care and support” for the resident manatees and additional marine and freshwater exhibits.  The Handbook identifies the following duties:


. . . food prep, diet and nutrition, creating environmental enrichment devices, health monitoring and documentation and environmental sampling.  Will also include informal public presentations.  May include participation in animal transportation and physicals as well as plant and or animal collection.


Interns are also required to complete a project and presentation.  The intern program is designed

to “provide college students from a wide variety of educational disciplines the opportunity to



apply traditional academic classroom learning to actual work experience in the fields of environmental education, marine biology and aquariology”.  The interns are unpaid but obtain school credit and/or work experience.


The Handbook outlines “Intern Orientation” which includes protocols on subjects like safety and dive information.  There is also an Intern Orientation Check List which requires a staff member to sign off on the intern’s manatee training.  As new interns progress with their “training,” existing staff use and sign off on manatee training and marine- specific areas/responsibilities  to indicate intern progress.  These areas include “Safety,” “Food Prep,” “Chemistries,” “Feeding: Manatees / Snooty / Rehabs,” and “Feeding / Touch Tank / Coral / Fresh / Quarantine” for “Chemistries” and “Cleaning” (under Marine), “Log Sheets,” “Animal Information,” and “Handbook.”


iv.        Volunteers


Aquarium manatee care volunteers or “voluntary manatee handlers” “assist staff with general husbandry care” for the resident manatees.  More specifically:


Duties include food prep, creating environmental enrichment devices, assisting the dive spotter and feeding the manatees. May include participation in animal transportation and physical exams as well as plant collection.


v.         Facilities Staff


The manatee care staff is assisted as needed with housekeeping and technical support by the Museum’s facilities staff.  The facilities group includes a Chief Facilities Officer, a Facilities Supervisor, a full-time maintenance person (who had the primary responsibility for life support systems for about 16 years), a part-time maintenance person and several custodians.


e.         Manatee-related forms, policies and protocols


The manatee care staff members are familiarized with certain information, forms, policies and protocols during their orientation.  Review of these documents highlighted portions of text pertinent here, including the following:


Dive log (containing info on time in, out, duration, total compressor time, diver, spotter and handler) and an area for notes about the dive.


“Food” log by food source (e.g., romaine, kale, potato, carrot, natural, other, total, %



Feeding evaluation.


Behavior log and further notes (a brief summary of key animal behavior observations) .



Water Quality log (containing various water chemistries, chiller temp, backwash, and coliform counts).


The policies and protocols contain general references to checking the pools and undertaking any necessary repairs.  There are also references to completing dive logs and noting repair time.  For example, the duration of repair work in the pool was recorded in a number of 2010 logs perhaps because of the renovations being undertaken at the time.  Relevant documents specifically provide as follows:


Manatee Husbandry Specialist duties:


•     Diving to maintain the manatee pool

•     Dive to maintain the tank


[Manatee] Handlers Responsibilities:


Cleaning the tank.

Focus on cleaning includes . . .  vacuuming the bottom and making sure the tank appears safe for manatees and divers.


Diver Job description:


. . . assists w/ hookah aided exhibit maintenance . . . and cleaning and maintenance . . . keep accurate records.


Aquarium Opening Checklist


Check manatees and main pool


* * *


Aquarium Opening Procedures:


Pool Area

Inspect the tank for any overnight problems, tank bottom repairs, etc.


Aquarium Diving Protocols


All divers shall adhere to this protocol –


* * *


5.         Diver shall properly fill out dive logs






Post-Dive Checklist

Fill in all dive log records. RECORDS


Be sure to fill in dive log


Basic Manatee Pool Dive Procedures:



Let your spotter know your intended route and plan for cleaning and/or repairing the tank.

Working in the tank –


* * *


Do repair work next.  Repairs can be time consuming and there will not always be time to vacuum before the first [educational] group arrives.




Fill out the dive log in our Daily Logs . . . Note in a separate column time required for repairs.




The diver will give you a tentative route through the tank for the

day’s maintenance.


These policies and protocols do not appear to contain any explicit reference to the panel, checking the panel or further securing the panel during dives.


f.          Dive Practices


It appears that upon entering the water, divers would generally vacuum the pool bottom and move through the pool in a clockwise or counter -clockwise fashion.  The direction and conduct of the dive would vary in accordance with different factors such as the location and proximity of the manatees and the anticipated duration of the dive.  Dives were generally conducted in the morning and would not be done in the presence of educational groups at the Museum to see the manatees.  Following a dive, the diver, is to make an appropriate entry in the daily dive log as to



names of dive team diver, spotter  and handler, time in, time out, total dive time, total compressor time and record any notes.




III.      Developments of Note


a.         Staff knowledge and understanding about the cave


While newer staff were not necessarily aware of what the cave area was like, all were aware it was potentially dangerous to divers, but some may not have fully understood it was a potential danger to the manatees.  Some staff did not seem to realize problems requiring repairs and completion of repairs should be noted in the dive log.


b.         Staff experience with the panel


It appears the panel was not removed or completely off in the roughly seven -plus-year period between when the cave was declared “off limits” and cleaning operations in the cave ceased until the time just prior to Snooty’s death.  There were occasionally minor issues with the panel such

as loose, rusted or worn-out screws.  Staff interviews indicate that all members of the Aquarium

staff during their tenures had at least one such experience.  Two of those situations occurred the week before Snooty’s death.  Reporting of these occurrences, if at all, was verbal and informal, and was not recorded in the dive logs.


c.        July 16 –  24, 2017


According to information gathered from staff interviews and security video, during the week preceding Snooty’s death, daily dives were abbreviated on three and possibly four days and not done on one day.  Members of the Aquarium staff were aware of the panel being loose or askew and/or that it was missing screws beginning Sunday, July 16.  Due to breakdowns in recordkeeping, reporting, communication, and follow-through, while some action was taken no action culminated in an effective repair.  The panel appeared to be in place at the end of daylight on Saturday, July 22 (when insufficient natural light in the Aquarium ended the video footage).


On Sunday morning, July 23, the manatee pool was found to be murky with stirred -up and brownish water.  A visual check found only the three younger rehab manatees.  It was also discovered that the panel leading to the cave was on the floor of the main pool.  There was no sign of Snooty so recall procedures were initiated.  When appropriate, staff entered the pool but had no visibility into the off-limits cave.  The Bradenton Fire Department was contacted and arrived shortly thereafter.  A Fire Department diver located Snooty in the cave and assisted with recovery of his body.  The Fire Department diver re-secured the panel with new screws.




On Monday, July 24, facilities staff reinforced the structure behind the panel.  Three half-inch high-density PVC supports were affixed to the fiberglass wall behind the panel.  The addition of a middle support prevents a manatee from swimming through the opening if the panel becomes dislodged.  Ten stainless steel screws were secured to the supports to hold the access panel in place.




IV.       Findings


As there were no eyewitnesses or video documentation of when the panel came off, it cannot conclusively be determined if something caused the panel to come off or if it simply fell off. However, the clear contributing factors that led up to the panel coming off and the accident that caused Snooty’s death include the existence of the cave; the failure to adequately secure, maintain and monitor the panel; inadequate awareness and appreciation of the potential for panel failure and associated hazards to the manatees; training (and cross-training with facilities staff); recordkeeping; reporting; communications and follow through related breakdowns concerning the panel.


•     The panel:  The decision to cease cleaning operations in the cave was intended to protect human and animal safety.  Following the decision to cease cleaning operations in the cave and declare it “off limits,” the panel was not secured in a more permanent way and still required monitoring and maintenance.



•     Staff training and written guidance addressing dive practices regarding the panel: Staff training and written guidance did not explicitly or fully inform staff of the need to check, secure and properly maintain the panel during dives.


•     Staff training and written guidance regarding daily dive log recordkeeping and reporting: The importance of the daily dive log is made clear, but the need to document the nature of any specific needed repair action or a means for formal reporting and follow up on potential repairs is not clear.


•     The cave area:  The underwater cave underneath the ledge created potential water quality, maintenance and human and animal safety issues.


•     Written warning notice about the cave:  While staff training and written guidance made clear that the cave was “off limits” for people, they did not make sufficiently clear the potential hazards the cave posed to manatees.


•     Limited, informal reporting of repair-related concerns:  Reporting of repair-related concerns was rarely done via the dive log (or in any written manner) and was largely via informal conversation.


•     Tracking of pool repairs through to completion:  There was no regular practice for tracking and following up on the status of pool repairs.


          Dive route:  Dive routes were not adjusted based on the actual routes completed at earlier times, whether on the same or previous days, making it possible for conditions like the security of the panel to go undetected.



          Duration of dives:  Dive duration varied perhaps because of factors such as vacuum failure and dives sometimes ended before covering the entire pool, particularly the panel area.



V.        Moving Forward / Recommendations


Review of this situation also yielded a number of items for Museum consideration moving forward.  Included within these categories and items are some ideas suggested by Museum staff themselves.  As it is understood that the Museum has sought additional input to advise it on the manatee program specifically and is also seeking MRP guidance, the following is submitted for consideration in consultation with the Museum’s advisers.  To the Museum’s credit, some of these measures have already been initiated or undertaken.  Obviously, a number of the measures are also dependent upon the future direction of the Museum’s manatee program.


a.         Organizational Commitment and Culture


i.          Mission and Vision Statements and Ethics Policy


The Museum’s Mission and Vision statements and Ethics Policy should be reviewed and updated.  These statements set forth guiding principles which contribute to organization identity and culture.  Accordingly, they should explicitly acknowledge the significance of the Museum’s responsibilities to the living beings entrusted to its care, and the importance of treating them (as well as artifacts and historical objects at the Museum) with the utmost compassion, dignity, and respect.


ii.         Establish a Living Collections Committee on the Board


Form a committee of the Board to work in concert with the CEO and staff and regularly review activities, facilities, and programs involving living beings housed at the Museum . This further elevates awareness of and commitment to animal-related responsibilities.


iii.        Create an executive level Animal Welfare Officer position


Designate an executive level staff member reporting directly to the CEO to serve as an Animal Welfare Officer.  This role can be filled by a staff member (also holding another position at the Museum) with experience and sensitivity in handling animal-related concerns.  While direct animal care experience would be helpful it is not a requirement for this key leadership role.  The Animal Welfare Officer would provide executive level oversight and support and also give staff and others an outlet for any unresolved concerns not sufficiently addressed by manatee/aquarium care and/or facilities staff.


b.         Functional Separation


i.          Separate animal care and education functions


Have manatee care/aquarium staff focus solely on the animals within their care and associated animal welfare and safety matters. Perhaps delegate educational tasks to interns and volunteers. Manatee care/aquarium staff can perhaps be available for public Q&A sessions or special programs but core animal and facility-related responsibilities should always be their top priority.




c.         Communications  and Coordination


i.          Weekly Aquarium Meeting Agenda Items


Continue weekly aquarium staff meetings and consider having certain regular agenda items such as review of previous meeting action items, animal behavior/health, dive observations, facilities issues/repairs, educational and professional development opportunities, and outreach. These meetings could also be more effectively used to coordinate and assign specific actions related to any issues needing attention, and to follow-up on such issues (as discussed in previous meetings) to ensure timely completion/correction.  Such a process provides for greater accountability and guarantees that things that matter in terms of animal welfare as well as animal and human safety are always reviewed and remain top of mind.


ii.         Facilities Participation in Weekly Aquarium Meetings


Consider inviting a facilities representative to attend weekly aquarium meetings when appropriate (or at least monthly).


d.         The Manatee Facility


i.          Assess manatee facility condition


Assess condition, limitations and potential of the manatee facility in the context of the Museum’s future commitment to the manatee program.  Integrate animal and facilities staff as well as appropriate experts in associated deliberations and decisions.  Consider wholesale renovation/modernization, including redesign wholly eliminating the underwater cave or any similar areas.


ii.         Third-party expert inspection of manatee facility


Arrange for inspection of manatee facility pool complex by third-party aquatic facilities expert.


iii.        Establish more formalized, comprehensive, preventative maintenance program


Include panel, filtration and drainage grates, medical pool gate and other similar features in a more formalized, ongoing, regularly scheduled, well-documented,  preventive maintenance program involving appropriate manatee care, facilities and other expertise.  (This also requires cross-training (as to what to look for, how to check, whom to consult) between these departments and the addition of dive capabilities within the facilities team.)




e.         Staff training and development


i.          Enhanced training and written guidance


Enhance staff, intern, volunteer training programs and written materials including: guidance on items to be checked within the facility and during dives (e.g., the panel and grates), appropriate recordkeeping practices, incidents and other matters requiring immediate reporting and responsibilities for follow-up actions (through documenting resolution).


ii.         Revise warning about cave area


Revise the written warning about the cave area hazards to make explicit the potential hazards to the manatees.


iii.        Cross-training


Expand opportunities for cross-training animal care and facilities/maintenance  staff so that each has a basic understanding and sensitivity to overlapping areas of concern potentially impacting the animals and their welfare, as well as staff, intern, volunteer, and visitor safety.  This should be done in a manner that fosters enhanced interdepartmental cooperation.  Cross-training could also include all Museum staff and leadership to heighten sensitivity to the importance of animal- related responsibilities, associated operations and of reporting anything that seems different or unusual to the appropriate staff for further review and action as warranted (e.g., animal or visitor behavior and facility conditions, such as water clarity, odors, foreign objects in the pool).


iv.        Utilizing recently published resources


Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo recently distributed its Husbandry Guidelines for the Florida Manatee (the “Guidelines”) document dated November 2015 to MRP participants.  The Guidelines expressly note that the “manual is based solely on Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (TLPZ) principles and practices regarding manatee husbandry and rehabilitation.”  Manatee care/aquarium staff, education and perhaps facilities and administrative staff should review relevant portions of these Guidelines (unless and until the Museum develops its own version).  Some particularly helpful chapters include Facility and Life Support, Manatee Behavior and Rehabilitation, Recovery, Release Preparation, Equipment and Methods Used for Moving Manatees, Manatee Restraint

and Handling and Manatee Transport.  Manatee care/aquarium staff could also read and review a

chapter (or more) weekly and discuss same at the weekly meeting.  Manatee care/aquarium staff could also identify comments and questions for submission to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, and staff could recommend good practices within the Guidelines for Museum adoption.


v.         Professional development opportunities


Encourage and support greater participation in manatee-program-related professional development training offered at or by other organizations.




f.          Recordkeeping  and Reporting


i.          Daily dive log review


Clearly and explicitly require divers and spotters to review dive log prior to every dive. This will alert them to any specific issues needing attention in addition to their routine dive activities.


ii.         Dive log entries / checklist


Incorporate a daily checklist into dive log to ensure completion of required checks/tasks.  Make recordkeeping more complete and consistent by noting observations, repairs and action items from dives within daily dive logs.


iii.        Immediate reporting


Immediately record and report any potential repair needs to the Director and Assistant Curator, and possibly even the Facilities Director and the Animal Welfare Officer.


iv.        Create repair list / record


All repair records and reports should also be contained on a continuously updated list of repairs which is prioritized, checked and updated regularly.  Any repairs not completed immediately should be given an estimated completion date by the Director or Assistant Curator in consultation with the Facilities Director as needed.


v.         Periodic retrospective record review


Undertake periodic retrospective review of certain records to help discern patterns and trends. For example, had all incidents relating to the panel been recorded and dive logs reviewed periodically there may have been greater awareness about the panel and the importance of making certain it was fully secured.  This can also help to measure progress in the manatee program.


g.         Other Practices


i.          Revise current method of dives to clean the manatee pool so that start, direction and end point of dive are noted in dive log


Divers and spotters check the prior day’s dive log prior to diving and if the previous day’s dive was cut short or was incomplete, start at the end point of that dive or go in the opposite direction. If dive length/effectiveness is impacted or impeded by public programming/visitation,  perhaps diving and spotting staff should begin their shifts earlier.  (Of course, animal welfare and dive safety concerns are always paramount in conducting any given dive.)



ii.         Commence interdepartmental effort to self-inspect for AWA compliance


To be more proactive and to foster greater interdepartmental cooperation, the Museum should develop a robust system for periodic self-inspections and preparation for potential United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) Animal Care Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) inspections.  Self-inspections should include an interdepartmental team (animal care, facilities, and perhaps a thir d member of administrative staff) and should also examine animals and elements not necessarily covered by the AWA .


h.         Contributing to the Greater Good


i.          Offer to provide dedicated support to the MRP


As part of a respectful and thoughtful effort to honor Snooty and constructively learn from his tragic death, consider further supporting manatee conservation, protection and welfare in innovative ways. Consider offering to fund or provide ongoing administrative support for the MRP, possibly including the creation of a “central office/repository”  with at least part-time, Museum-funded administrative support staff to assist and support the MRP and whoever is serving as the current MRP Chair.  This could help to expand the MRP’s capabilities and further demonstrate the Museum’s commitment to important ma natee-related work everywhere. Alternatively, the Museum could endorse or fund a grant program for staff at MRP-member organizations to underwrite time invested in MRP functions or manatee field conservation and research.  Obviously, any of these measures would be dependent upon the MRP’s response to any Museum offer.


ii.         Host Conference / Workshop


Offer to host a periodic or regularly recurring manatee conference or workshop inviting MRP contributors and other experts to share good practices with respect to manatee care, facilities or other considerations.  This could possibly be something to discuss with the nearby Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo as a potential partner (with the Museum contributing added resources).



VI.       Conclusion


The Museum staff lovingly cared for Snooty for much of his long life.  The Museum and its staff and veterinarian contributed to Snooty’s longevity and his continued vitality by making adjustments in his diet and environment (e.g., adding chillers to cool the warmer water supplied to the Museum during the summer months).  Unfortunately, multiple breakdowns within the manatee program, some seemingly small, contributed to the conditions which made Snooty’s accidental death possible.  The constructive lessons set forth herein are intended to do more than simply prevent another similar tragedy. They are made in the spirit of more fully understanding the important responsibility we have towards the animals in our care, and in the hopes that in adopting the practices discussed above (and others) we will further enhance and improve the care and well-being of these animals.