Next month, the South Florida Museum will host an open house for the public to remember what was the world's oldest living manatee in captivity.
In his long life, Snooty was more than a mascot for the Florida county named for sea cows. "He helped to unite the community," said Manatee County Historian Cathy Slusser.
Slusser said he helped teach people that manatees were intelligent creatures, and not just a "blob." There was a time in the 19th Century, she said, where people tried to extract the oil from manatees, much in the way people exploited whales for the same purpose.
Slusser said Snooty was first known to the public as 'Baby,' as he came to Manatee County as a 1-year-old, in 1949. He was brought in to boost tourism and promote Bradenton, she said.
"Then, as he grew, more and more people came to love him and he was actually identified with our community," she said. "And that's why I think so many people around the world are mourning him, because he was more than one animal, he represented our whole community."