BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – The former home of “Snooty” the manatee will soon look very different.
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton is renovating the pool where the famous animal once lived. Snooty died at age 69 in 2017 after swimming behind an access panel and becoming trapped. The museum admitted it was a “preventable accident” and made changes from personnel to protocol.
The 60,000 gallon tank has been used to rehabilitate dozens of other manatees since.
“He is still very much at the heart of what we do every day,” Remi Gonzalez, with the Bishop Museum, said of Snooty.
She said, without him, the Bishop would not have a manatee rehabilitation program.
The renovations will make the pool look more natural and are completely separate from issues already remedied following Snooty’s death.
“Now it really looks a lot more like a cypress spring, there are varying depths in the pool,” explained Gonzalez.
The renovations also include a manmade cypress tree stump in the middle for manatees to navigate around, just like they would in the wild.
“It’s really just setting the manatees up for even more success after we release them back in the wild and give them their second chance at life,” Gonzalez said.
She said the planning for renovations took much longer than the actual construction. Plans began well over a year ago and construction began on March 1.
The state provided the museum a $400,000 grant for construction on the manatee’s pool environment and for expenses to do with things like water quality. A private donor provided funds to update the guest experience, such as replacing carpet and updating the air conditioning.
Employees say the museum is passionate about giving these gentle giants the best care possible.
“The Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat hasn’t been renovated in 25 years. It was long overdue,” said Gonzalez. “It really was time and we also really felt strongly that the environment needed to change for the manatees. They were perfectly safe and content in the pool that we had, but it was really just a concrete enclosure.”
Renovations should be complete sometime in June.