Snooty the manatee
Snooty died at age 69 at South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida. Getty Images

Snooty, the world’s oldest manatee, died in what is being viewed as a “heartbreaking accident” Sunday at the age of 69 at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida.

Although Snooty’s death is still under investigation, administrators at the South Florida Museum in Manatee County say the world record-breaking manatee died just two days after his birthday in which he turned 69 years old, Bradenton Patch first reported. Snooty was found in an underwater area used only for plumbing and the museum says an access panel door that is normally bolted shut was somehow jarred loose to allow Snooty to swim through the entrance.

"Our initial investigation indicates that Snooty's death was a heartbreaking accident and we're all quite devastated about his passing," Brynne Anne Besio, the museum's CEO, said in a Sunday statement.

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"We're reviewing what happened and will be conducting a full investigation into the circumstances. Snooty was such a unique animal and he had so much personality that people couldn't help but be drawn to him. As you can imagine, I -- and our staff, volunteers and board members -- considered him a star. We all deeply mourn his passing. We are honored to have had him with us for so long and will continue his legacy through our manatee rehabilitation program."

The three other manatees in rehabilitation at the museum – Baca, Gale and Randall – “are all fine,” according to museum officials.

Snooty, Celebrity Sea Cow, Remembered At 69 Years Old

The museum said daily visual inspections of Snooty’s habitat on Saturday provided no indications of anything wrong. The aquarium will remain closed as the investigation into Snooty’s death continues and staff are being given time to grieve over the loss of the celebrity sea cow.

Snooty entered into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2015, when he was named the “world’s oldest-known manatee” in captivity. He was born on July 21, 1948 at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company – the first recorded birth of a manatee in the care of humans. He was known as “Baby Snoots” at the time, Bradenton Patch reports. He was featured on the “Captain Kangaroo” television program in 1982.

Museum officials asked Snooty fans and visitors to submit their memories of the Miami-born manatee on Facebook.

"The South Florida Museum is deeply saddened to share the news that our beloved Snooty has died. Snooty’s death was a heartbreaking accident and the circumstances are being investigated so we can be sure we know the full details of what happened. Our current rehab manatees - Randall, Gale and Baca - are all fine. We know that our community and Snooty fans around the world share our grief. We will keep you updated as memorial plans develop. Please share your treasured memories and love for Snooty in the comments."