Even after his unexpected — and untimely — death, Snooty the manatee may still wield a lasting legacy on his community, where the longest-living manatee in captivity was a beloved figure for nearly seven decades.
A few days after his 69th birthday on July 21, Snooty drowned after being trapped in an underwater plumbing area when a hatch door was accidentally left open in his aquarium enclosure at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton.
Snooty was a celebrated icon, revered by schoolchildren and the community for nearly seven decades.
But his death may launch Snooty into controversial territory.
After the accident, Anthony Pusateri, a Sarasota resident, suggested a way to honor the 1,300-pound mammal: erect a statue in front of the old Manatee County courthouse in Bradenton, replacing a Confederate memorial that now stands on the site.
“To honor Snooty’s legacy as a positive icon in Bradenton, I propose that the negative symbol of racism and oppression that is the Confederate monument be relocated and replaced with a statue of Snooty the manatee,” Pusateri said in launching a petition drive on Change.org.
“By doing so, the Confederate monument could possibly be moved to a museum (or other more appropriate location) out of everyday public eye and a more positive symbol then take its place,” he added.
The petition drive comes as communities in Florida, and other Southern states, engage in controversial debates about removing Confederate monuments.
As of Friday, the petition had collected some 11,400 signatures in support of the proposal.
— Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger.