Like so many people, Snooty the Manatee first came to Bradenton for a quick visit and ended up living here permanently.
Unlike those people, though, Snooty didn’t fall in love with the area and decide to make it his home.
“It was more like Bradenton fell in love with Snooty,” said Marilyn Margold, the director of living collections for the South Florida Museum.
It was back in 1949 that Snooty first came to town, brought here from Miami for one of the DeSoto celebrations, Margold said. He’s been here ever since. The South Florida Museum, which has been his home virtually since the first day he arrived, is celebrating his 68th birthday on Saturday with a day full of events. In 2015, he was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest manatee in human care.
“Every year is a wonderful, exciting year for the museum because Snooty’s showing us how long a manatee can live,” said Jessica Schubick, the museum’s communications manager.
It was back in 1949 that Snooty first came to town, brought here from Miami for one of the DeSoto celebrations, Margold said. He’s been here ever since.
The people at the museum know Snooty’s exact birthday because he was born in captivity. Miami has two other manatees that have been around a long time, but they were born in the wild and they’re thought to be about 10 years younger than Snooty. There’s no way to know the exact age of a manatee until you can examine its ear bones after it has died.
The celebration, in the museum’s north parking lot and along 10th Street in front museum and is free and open to the public. It gets going at 10 a.m. and features booths and displays from local environmental, marine and wildlife organizations, and music from a “family friendly” DJ. It’s the first time Snooty’s birthday has included a DJ, Schubick said. There’s also live music from the Garbage-Men, a local band that performs on instruments they’ve created from recycled materials.
Snooty will be watching festivities through the window in his pool, and visitors can watch him, too. For people who want to wish him “Happy Birthday” in person, the museum is offering reduced admission prices all day. The birthday bash goes until 2 p.m., but the museum stays open until 5 p.m. Tenth Street will be closed to traffic until a little after 2 p.m.
Snooty is one of only three manatees in the United States who, by law, can never be released into the wild. Those two 50-something manatees in Miami are the other two.
Snooty has been part of important research into manatee behavior and life cycles, by the museum and other organizations, Margold said. Other manatees under human care — including Icecube and Sarasolo, who are temporarily sharing living quarters with Snooty — are to be released into the wild, so their interactions with humans have to be restricted.
“Snooty gives South Florida Museum a unique opportunity,” Margold said. “Because he was captive-born, we can work with him differently.”
Details: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. July 23, South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Free for outdoor events. Reduced museum admission $9 adults, $8 seniors (65 and older), $7 for ages 4-12, free for children ages 3 and younger with a paying adult. Information: 941-746-4131, southfloridamuseum.org.