It’s been a year since Snooty went to swim in that great aquarium in the sky, but the team at South Florida Museum still holds the region’s most famous sea cow in high regard. Working with the team at Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum, we channeled the spirit of Snooty for a retrospective on his happiest days and life as Manatee County’s mascot. 

Photos courtesy of South Florida Museum.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOUTH FLORIDA MUSEUM.


Photos courtesy of South Florida Museum.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOUTH FLORIDA MUSEUM.

The Prins Valdemar   For awhile,it seemed like the whole world looked like this, a Dutch warship capsized in 1926 near Miami Harbor. A year ago the shipwreck got lifted from the sea to become a floating aquarium and home to the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Shop. My mother, Lady, lived there when I was born and I spent most of my first year here.
And all these people came to see me.

Photos courtesy of South Florida Museum.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOUTH FLORIDA MUSEUM.

 

Photos courtesy of South Florida Museum.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOUTH FLORIDA MUSEUM.

De Soto Celebration  Without this Bradenton area event, I may never have come to this area. I was just 11 months old when I came here in 1949 as part of a traveling exhibit for the Miami Aquarium. And all these other people came to see me, Baby Snoots. That Miami business didn’t stick around for long, but they found me a nice home at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce building in Bradenton where, you guessed it, more people came to see me.

 

Photos courtesy of South Florida Museum.

Turning 21  I know why humans make a big deal of turning 21. You finally get a grown-up name! They called me Baby Snoots until I was old enough to drink, which is silly because I live underwater. The South Florida Museum in 1966 held a five-day celebration for my 21st birthday and finally retired that name. The Bradenton Herald headline even ran a
headline saying I had “come of age.”

 

Lettuce  Hey, I gotta go to the surface again. This time it’s for lunch. The staff here always fed me a great assortment of veggies—80 pounds of them every day. I could always find a good mix of carrots, kale, cabbage, broccoli and sweet potatoes, but my favorite is just a simple green lettuce head. I know people have left me gifts at the museum
over the past year. I want you to know the
lettuce is appreciated.

 

Captain Kangaroo  I still remember the words: “Good Morning, Captain.” In 1982,
a big Hollywood star featured me on his TV show. He called himself Captain Kangaroo, but I’m pretty sure he was a human. Anyway, he had a kid’s show and filmed a documentary on manatees and he made me the star! Even if people couldn’t come here, they were still happy to see me.

 

My Hydrophone  I have to admit it was hard to have a conversation with people for a long time here, but in 1985, the South Florida Museum installed a hydrophone on my tank. One more reason to swim someplace! Now I could make noises with my new toy and talk to the people who came to see me. You like your smartphone, but this was my special underwater tech. Best of all, it also let me speak to scientists. The hydrophone let me be an active participant in research on the hearing and speaking patterns of manatees, like me.

 

Dan Quayle   That human-looking Kangaroo wasn’t the only star to visit my tank. I also met world leaders here. The highest-ranking U.S. official to visit me was Vice President Dan Quayle (now that guy was a sweet potatoe!). The federal official swung through the Bradenton area in 1990 for a Republican fundraiser, but, really, to see me.

 

Parker Manatee Aquarium  Don’t get me wrong, Bradenton was home sweet home almost my whole life, but for a long time home was a small space. I did move in a 12-by-20-foot pool in 1966, but animal rights people said I deserved more. Can’t say I wanted to fight. There was even a group in the 1990s called Free Snooty that wanted me to live in Homosassa Springs, but scientists were afraid I wouldn’t survive.  Instead, all of Bradenton pulled together and opened the Parker Manatee Aquarium in 1993. For me especially, they got a new 60,000-gallon tank, my forever home from then on. 

 

Newton  And I got friends! In 1998 I got a tank mate named Newton. He was my first guest ever, and he only stayed for a while but we got along so well the museum let the Manatee Rehabilitation Network come here and let other friends visit. My buddy Parker stopped by in 1998. But I forget everybody—more than 25 other manatees swam with me in this tank through the years.

 

Snooty’s Gala  You know why everyone loved coming to this gala every year? That’s right, to see me!  Don’t tell the human volunteers, but I was the most successful fundraiser South Florida Museum ever had. They started holding Snooty’s Gala in 1993. Boy, those were the days. 

 

Record Breaker  You know who else wanted to see me? The Guinness Book of World Records. That’s right, I was kind of a big deal. In 2015 I got my own spot in the big book, which named me the oldest captive manatee ever. And I’m still there! No one’s even close. And while Mr. Guinness won’t say it, that technically makes me oldest known manatee in world history. Go
ahead, wild manatees, prove otherwise.