BRADENTON, FLA.- — The former home of Snooty is getting a new look.
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature closed The Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat for renovations in March.
It holds nearly 60,000 gallons of water, but it is empty as crews create a new habitat for manatees. The new pool will better imitate what manatees experience in the wild. The area around the pool looks like a cypress spring.
"The habitat has the same footprint so it's the same shape, same size, but it now has a lot of different depths of surface for manatees to rest on where before our previous pool, we just had one depth," said Remi Gonzalez, Director of Communications and Brand at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature.
The Bishop's Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat is a second stage rehabilitation facility. It provides a temporary home to manatees that will be released back into the wild after receiving treatment from an animal care hospital.
"We just released our last two rehabilitation manatees on February 18 and we have been planning for this project for a year and we knew once these two manatees have been released back into the wild that would be the time we would close the habitat," said Gonzalez.
The exhibit was the former home to Snooty, the oldest living manatee in human care in the world. Snooty died at age 69 after a "preventable accident." Staff fixed the issues immediately following his death in 2017.
"It is a very obvious question. Why we are doing the renovations and if we did it because of the factors that contributed to the death of Snooty in 2017 and the answer is no. We took care of the factors that led to his preventable death way back in 2017 after the incident," said Gonzalez.
Private donations and a grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission paid for the renovations.
Donations also help care for the manatees.
"Manatees eat 10%-15% of their body weight in greens every day so the reason we are able to feed our manatees is through donations so everyone who comes to the museum, everyone who buys a membership, everyone who buys something in the museum store, everyone who just gives a gift, helps contribute to the care of the manatees here," said GOnzalez.
The manatee exhibit should reopen in late June. The museum remains open to the public.
"We started rehabilitating manatees in 1998 and truly we would not have our manatee rehabilitation program if it weren't for Snooty. He's really at the heart of this. He's the reason we started and we still view the manatee rehabilitation program as a legacy of his."
For more information on the museum visit: www.bishopscience.org.