The world's oldest known manatee, Snooty, has died as a result of a tragic accident, officials with the South Florida Museum announced on Sunday.
Snooty turned 69 on July 21.
The manatee was found in an underwater area only used to access plumbing. The area is usually locked but officials suggest that a door leading inside was loose.
"Our initial investigation indicates that Snooty's death was a heartbreaking accident and we're all quite devastated about his passing," said Brynne Anne Besio, the Museum's CEO. "We're reviewing what happened and will be conducting a full investigation into the circumstances. Snooty was such a unique animal and he had so much personality that people couldn't help but be drawn to him. As you can imagine, I -- and our staff, volunteers and board members -- considered him a star. We all deeply mourn his passing. We are honored to have had him with us for so long and will continue his legacy through our manatee rehabilitation program."
The Aquarium will remain closed while Museum staff continues its investigation and staff who worked with him have an opportunity to grieve.
Highlights of Snooty's Life :
July 21, 1948 Snooty is born on The Prinz Valdemar, a Danish warship that capsized in the Miami harbor in 1926 and later became a floating restaurant and the Miami Aquarium Tackle Company.
1949 'Baby Snoots' comes to Bradenton for the Desoto Celebration and later makes his permanent home in an exhibit inside The South Florida Museum's area at the Chamber of Commerce Pier Building.
1966 Snooty moves to the newly constructed South Florida Museum.
1979 Manatee County Commissioners declare Snooty to be the County's official mascot.
1982 Snooty gains even wider fame when the children's television show, Captain Kangaroo, films him as part of a documentary on manatees.
1985 A hydrophone placed in Snooty's tank reveals for the first time the high-pitched squeaks as Snooty's vocalization.
1987 Snooty begins training to aid researchers trying to determine how well manatees hear at different frequencies.
1993 Snooty moves into his newest home: a 60,000-gallon exhibit in the newly constructed Parker Manatee Aquarium.
1998 TheParker Manatee Aquarium joins the Manatee Rehabilitation Network and is introduced to his first tank mate, Newton. During his life, Snooty hosted 33 rehabilitating manatees.
2008 Snooty celebrates his 60th birthday at his annual Birthday Bash and Wildlife Festival. His life history makes him one of the most renowned stewards for endangered species and the environment.
2013 More than 6,000 guests visit the South Florida Museum to celebrate Snooty's historic 65th birthday -- the largest crowd the museum has ever seen and a testament to Snooty's popularity in the community and beyond.
2015 Snooty is officially certified as the world's oldest captive manatee by Guinness World Records.
2017 Snooty celebrates his 69th birthday.