Sorry, I missed your birthday Snooty

By | Category: Travel destinations

a belated happpy birthday Snooty

I missed a birthday last week. My apologies. I shouldn’t have. The difference between this and other birthdays I forget is because I can’t send one of those, “sorry, I forgot” cards. Why? Because Snooty can’t read although that doesn’t stop fans sending him cards!

Snooty is a manatee but not just any manatee. He is 65 years old.

How do you know he is 65? Because this is one of the few occasions where a whole manatee history is known. He was born aboard a Danish warship, the Prinz Valdemar, on July 21st 1948 and thus, shares his birthday with other celebrities like Cat Stevens and the creator of the Doonesbury cartoons, Gary Trudeau. Snooty was the first manatee to have a recorded birth date and was the first manatee to be born in captivity. Therefore a lot of what is known about manatees comes from observing Snooty.

Snooty must be one of the few if not the only manatee to be born on a warship even though at the time the Prinz Valedemar was a floating restaurant and aquarium. The following year, 1949, he moved to the South Florida Museum which is in Bradenton on the Gulf of Mexico coast and he has been there ever since. He cannot be released into the wild because he has had so much human interaction but other rescued manatees join him until they can be rehabilitated and returned. At present he has two companions, Longo and Cheeno.

Manatees are slow moving, grazers of the sea eating over 25 kilos of vegetation a day. Because their sight is poor and their hearing is attuned to high pitch sounds they rely on touch. As such they can be hit by leisure boats resulting in wounds and even death. Manatees are a protected species and Florida and the Caribbean are two of the few places where they can be seen. Snooty is so important to the study of manatees because he has been studied since birth. If you haven’t seen manatees serenely nosing along the sea bottom then put it on the list of things you must do before you shuffle of to meet your maker. And if Florida isn’t on your holiday list this year, there is a webcam that operates during our afternoons and evening where you can watch him. The problem I have is that I don’t get that much work done when I’m watching him but it certainly beats watching afternoon television!

For visitors to Florida, Bradenton is about 120 miles from Orlando and for those visiting the Kissimmee area it is going to take about 110 minutes to do the journey. There are nearer airports such as Tampa (into which BA flies) and which is about forty-five minutes away but other closer airports have no direct links to the UK or Ireland.

For more about the museum, click here.

For more about manatees, click here

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