BRADENTON -- A few weeks shy of his 67th birthday, Snooty has been named the "Oldest Manatee in Captivity" by Guinness World Records.
The 66-year-old manatee, who lives in Bradenton's South Florida Museum, will turn 67 on July 21.
"For us, it is really exciting to know that Snooty is a record breaker," said Marilyn Margold, South Florida Museum director of living collections. "We've always believed that -- and it's been important because he's been such an ambassador for endangered species and marine mammals as a whole -- that it is very valuable that he is recognized for all the educational support that he's given the museum and the community as a whole."
Guinness World Records approached the museum about documenting Snooty's age after his 65th birthday in 2013, according to a release from the South Florida Museum. The official date his record was certified is Aug. 28, 2014.
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Margold said the recognition reaffirms what the museum already expected.
"We've always known that he was the oldest one in captivity," she said. "For us and Snooty, it kind of means that every day that he is with us is special and exciting for us. Just the fact that he is the oldest is one thing, but the fact that he is still around and still happy with his food and just being a general advocate for the environment, I think, is important."
On Thursday afternoon, 16-year-old Violet Sturgill watched as Snooty was fed. Violet, who lives in Oregon,
came to the museum with her mother and grandmother. She said coming to the museum was a childhood memory for her mom.
"It is really neat," she said. "It's amazing. I knew he was among the oldest, but I didn't know he was the oldest."
Eric Engan, who went to high school in Sarasota, remembers coming to see Snooty in 1975 on a field trip where he hand-fed the manatee. Engan, who was with his wife, Joette, were vacationing on Anna Maria Island from their home in Arizona.
"He has put on a few pounds but other than that, he looks pretty much the same," Engan said.
Snooty was born July 21, 1948, at the old Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company.
His was the first recorded birth of a manatee in captivity. Snooty came to Bradenton in 1949 as part of the DeSoto Festival.
The museum will celebrate Snooty's 67th birthday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 18 during Snooty's 67th Birthday Bash and Wildlife Festival.
The birthday celebration "is always exciting for us," Margold said.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.