Snooty, Bradenton’s beloved sea cow, will have his 68th birthday bash from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at South Florida Museum. The event has brought 4,000 to 6,000 people to the museum in years past.
“It’s a pretty busy day for us,” said Marilyn Margold, the museum’s director of living collections.
Guests can expect to wish Snooty a happy birthday, take pictures in a Snooty-themed photo booth, learn about wildlife and listen to live music. The admission fee will be reduced to $9 for adults, $8 for seniors age 65 and older, and $7 for children ages 4 to 12.
The manatee typically has a sweet tooth for pineapples, strawberries and beets.
“Anything with a little sugar, he likes that,” said Brittany Seraphin, assistant curator of living collections and caretaker for Snooty.
Votes for three potential birthday cakes on the museum’s Facebook page decided a “pineapple under the sea” cake as the winner, with a whole pineapple surrounded by a sun, seahorses, fish and characters Spongebob and Patrick from the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants all carved from fruit.
The manatee has been a Bradenton resident since he was brought here by the Desoto Celebration in 1949 when he was 11 month old. He was deemed non-releaseable into the wild since he was one of the few manatees born in captivity before the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed in 1972, said Margold.
In June 2015, the Guinness Book of World Records named Snooty the oldest manatee in captivity.
The 68-year-old currently shares his pool at Parker Aquarium with Ice Cube and Sarasolo, two 3-year-old manatees the museum plans on releasing in early 2017. In all, Snooty has shared waters with 30 manatees.
“It’s definitely an honor (to work with Snooty) because he is a very special manatee amongst the Florida manatee species,” Seraphin said.
Boat strikes, red tide and cold stress syndrome are obstacles wild manatees face, preventing them from living such long lives as Snooty. Seraphin said they’re lucky to make it to their 20s.
“It shows how long these animals can live under certain circumstances,” Margold said.