Snooty, the world's oldest manatee in captivity, died in a "heartbraking accident" Sunday after celebrating his 69th birthday just a few days earlier, ABC 15 reported.
Snooty was popular among visitors at the South Florida Museum, which houses the Parker Manatee Aquarium in Bradenton, Florida, NPR reported.
"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 statement. "Snooty was such a unique animal and he had so much personality that people couldn't help but be drawn to him."
According to a Sunday morning press release, museum officials said Snooty was found in an underwater area that is used to access plumbing for an exhibit. There will be an official investigation, but early signs show a door that was normally bolted shut had been knocked loose and Snooty was able to find a way in.
After hearing of the manatee's death, people have already started leaving tributes for him at the museum.
The museum will be closed while they investigate what happened, ABC 15 reported. Snooty's habitat is given a daily inspection, and there had been no issues found during the last inspection.
According to NPR, Snooty was the first manatee to be born in captivity and had been at the museum since 1949.