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People Are So Emotional Over The Death Of A Beloved 69-Year-Old Manatee Named Snooty

"Bless his heart!"

Posted on July 23, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. ET

Snooty, the beloved manatee at the South Florida Museum, has died days after his 69th birthday, museum officials announced on Sunday.

Jessica Schubick, South Florida Museum / Via southfloridamuseum.org

More than 5,000 people attended Snooty's birthday party on Saturday, Brynne Anne Besio, the CEO of the South Florida Museum, said at a press conference. "Snooty was important to so many" she said. The museum said that Snooty, born in 1948, was the "world's oldest known manatee."

Facebook: SouthFLMuseum

Jeff Rodgers, the museum's provost and chief operating officer, said that staff noticed that all manatees weren't accounted for on Sunday morning.

An underwater hatch that staff use to access plumbing was "knocked loose." While younger manatees were able to enter and leave what he described as a "tight area," Snooty, it seems, was not, and got stuck.

By the time staffers found Snooty, he was dead. His body will undergo an animal autopsy called a necropsy.

“Our initial investigation indicates that Snooty’s death was a heartbreaking accident and we’re all quite devastated about his passing,” said Besio.

“We’re reviewing what happened and will be conducting a full investigation into the circumstances."

As the investigation continues and staff grieve, the Aquarium will be closed.

People expressed their sadness over the manatee's death. This person said she was "crying real tears."

Snooty is dead and I am crying real tears.

"Snooty served as a beautiful manatee ambassador," another person said.

@BN9 Bless his heart! He lived a long life and brought so much joy to everyone that visited him. Snooty served as a… https://t.co/zkYIJBQu9h

And this person hopes that Snooty has "the best dang funeral a manatee can have."

All I'm saying is that Manatee County better throw Snooty the best dang funeral a manatee can have. #ripsnooty

RIP Snooty, a manatee who will be very much missed.

Facebook: SouthFLMuseum

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.