Snooty turns 62. He’s throwing a birthday party

Bradenton Herald – July 21 is a very important day.

Garry Trudeau, who created the comic strip “Doonesbury,” was born.

So were comic actors Robin Williams and Jon Lovitz.

They share their birthday with our beloved Snooty the Manatee, who, like Trudeau, turns 62 this year.

Snooty — the oldest living manatee in captivity — will throw his annual birthday celebration at the South Florida Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The bash is free and open to anyone who can come — including Trudeau, Williams and Lovitz, should they feel inclined.

An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 residents are expected to attend, said Marilyn Margold, aquarium director at the museum’s Parker Manatee Aquarium.

The birthday party will be part of the museum’s annual Wildlife Awareness Festival.

The event, held in the museum’s Spanish Plaza, includes games, vendors, free cookies and juice for children, appearances by the Bradenton Marauders, presentations by wildlife experts and Snooty and much more.

Margold said that for being 62, Snooty is in great condition. But he needs to take it easy on his speciality birthday cake — a lettuce confection that will have a little less pineapple drizzle than recent years.

“He was getting a sugar rush,” Margold said on why he needs to cut back. “Afterwards, he’d be napping for a week.”

To celebrate Snooty’s birthday, the Herald has complied a list of fun facts about the manatee.

He’s a big guy: Snooty weighs 1,215 pounds. Just imagine if he could stand — the manatee is 9 feet 7 inches long.

Food, glorious food: He can eat 80-90 pounds of food a day. That’s a lot of lettuce and carrots. His diet also consists of kale, cabbage, collards, broccoli, bok choy and apples. We bet he loves stir-fry.

Heathy fella: Health is important to Snooty, especially in his 60s. He takes vitamin supplements. Manatees in the wild don’t have it as easy, though. Margold said their average life span has dipped from 40 to 50 years, with many surviving only into their 20s.

He loves visitors: The museum lost count when Snooty reached 1 million visitors. Snooty loves the attention, especially if the media is present. Come see Snooty during four daily presentations on weekdays (11:15 a.m., 1, 2:45 and 3:45 p.m.) and three times on Sundays (1, 2:45 and 3:45 p.m.).

He teaches: Students from near and far often visit the manatee to learn from him and about him. The aquarium staff interprets. They are well-crafted in manatee-speak.

South Florida native: He was born at the old Miami Aquarium, which was situated on a former Danish warship called The Prinz Valdemar. The ship capsized in the Miami harbor in 1926 and was later turned into a floating restaurant and the Miami Aquarium Tackle Company.

You can watch Snooty nearly all day, everyday: Snooty has his own “Snooty CAM!” The cam runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Watch the video feed from http://www.southfloridamuseum.org.

Sometimes he listens in on meetings and other events: The museum’s VIP Boardroom, available for rental, has large window with a view of Snooty’s aquarium home. Sometimes, if Snooty doesn’t have visitors or isn’t “teaching,” he’ll swim by just to eavesdrop. Manatees, by nature, have poor eye sight but can hear well.

He can talk: In 1985, a hydrophone was placed in Snooty’s tank. It was the first time people heard his high-pitched vocal squeaks.

He came to party: The 1949 Desoto Celebration brought Snooty to Bradenton. Everyone loved him so much that he became the county’s official mascot in 1979.

TV star: Snooty was featured on the popular children’s TV show “Captain Kangaroo” in November of 1982. He’s loved TV cameras ever since.

published July 15, 2010

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