The death of Snooty
, a beloved 69-year-old manatee at the South Florida Museum, has been deemed "a preventable accident" and the result of employees failing to communicate.
On July 21, a day after his birthday, Snooty died after his tankmates Randall, Baca and Gale dislodged a bolted panel in their exhibit and swam into a narrow hallway used to access plumbing for the tank's life support system. Snooty drowned after he was unable to turn around and reach the surface for air.
In a press conference Thursday, Aug. 31, officials cited a breakdown in communication, human error and a failure to follow procedure in Snooty's death. They also were aware of the loose panel up to a week before his death, reports the Herald Tribune.
"In a review of records, documents, photos and videos, it is with the heaviest of hearts that the board confirms that Snooty died as a result of a preventable accident," said John Quinlan, the board's vice president in a statement. "Several factors that contributed to the tragedy include deficiencies in record-keeping, lack of proactive follow-through and the need for more formalized training of staff."
The museum announced earlier this week that it will open to the public for free for a Snooty day of remembrance on Sept. 10 from noon to 5 p.m.
Snooty was the first manatee to be born in captivity in 1948, and he lived at the aquarium since 1949, where he met millions of visitors every year. He was officially named the mascot of Manatee County in 1979.