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World's oldest manatee celebrates 68th birthday in Florida

South Florida museum authorities every year mark Snooty's birthday with Bash and Wildlife festival, an event designed to 'promote wildlife awareness'. (Representative image) Photograph: (Getty)

Reuters Bradenton, FL, United States Jul 23, 2016, 10.25 AM (IST)
Snooty the manatee resident of South Florida museum in Bradenton turned 68 on July 21, NBC reported. Snooty was born on July 21st 1948 in Miami but now lives at the museum's Parker Manatee Aquarium and is thought to be the world's oldest known manatee born in captivity.

The museum authorities every year mark Snooty's birthday with Bash and Wildlife festival, an event designed to "promote wildlife awareness", according to museum's website. The aquarium also works as a rehabilitation facility for manatees treated from injuries before their release back into the wild, the museum said. Motorboat propellers and speedboats are a leading cause of death and injury to Florida's manatees.

The manatee, a species long considered at risk of extinction, has recovered in sufficient numbers to move from endangered to threatened status, US wildlife officials said in early 2016. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to reclassify the protection status of the West Indian manatee, including a Florida subspecies listed as endangered since 1967.

The decision, announced at the Miami Seaquarium, reflects a finding that about 6,300 manatees live off the Florida coast today, compared with roughly 1,200 counted when aerial surveys began in the early 1990s. Federal and state officials described the likely reclassification as good news for the whiskered "sea cow" popular among Floridians.

The West Indian manatee, related to the African and Amazon species and to the dugong of Australia, grows to ten feet and more than 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms). It has no natural predators, but is vulnerable to prolonged exposure to water temperatures below 20 degrees celsius.

The range of the West Indian manatee extends into the US southeast, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America.

(Reuters)
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