The death of the world’s oldest manatee in captivity, Snooty, left many mourning over the news, and some protesters are demanding justice.
Snooty, Manatee County’s official mascot died from drowning overnight between July 22 and 23, after he swam into a plumbing tube and became trapped inside at the South Florida Museum.
The tubing area was suppose to be held shut by a cover with four screws, which museum officials said was checked daily. Snooty had just turned 69 years old the day before he died, the Bradenton Herald reported. It was later revealed in photos that the same panel was held by only one screw.
On Saturday, Aug. 5 over 30 protesters gathered outside the museum holding a Justice for Snooty demonstration blaming the death over the museum’s negligence and calling for the firing of CEO Brynne Anne Besio and COO Jeff Rodgers.
Organizer Denise Anderson told the Bradenton Herald that Snooty should have died of old age and not a “horrifying death by drowning.”
“Snooty is not here to get [justice] himself, but we want to get it for him,” Anderson said.
She said she was also speaking for people around the world who were outraged over the incident and contacted her to fight for what is right.
“Their COO after Snooty died went on live television and said that the panel that Snooty swam through where he died was checked by divers on a daily basis,” she said.
“The media-released photos taken two days before showed that same panel holding on by one screw,” Anderson said.
According to the Bradenton Herald, an external committee of manatee experts will review Snooty’s drowning death and ensure best practices to use in the aquarium. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, in cooperation with Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, will be a part of the review.
The museum’s communications manager Jessica Schubick said previously, “No one is committed to the well-being of manatees cared for at the South Florida Museum than our team members.”
In a statement the museum sent to Fox News on Friday it said, “Without facts, it is not appropriate to speculate or make any allegations.”
“When the review is complete and action steps are determined, the museum is committed to sharing the information publicly,” the statement said.
Snooty was born in 1948 in the Miami Aquarium and Tacke Company. He was the first recorded birth of a manatee in human care, according to Fox News.
He moved to Bradenton in 1949 and has greeted more than a million visitors throughout his lifetime.