The Mote family is absolutely heartbroken to share that yesterday, April 29, our beloved resident manatee, Hugh, passed away unexpectedly.

After Hugh showed a change in his behavior earlier in the day, animal care staff began closely monitoring him. Saturday late afternoon, Hugh suddenly became unresponsive in his habitat at Mote Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Center. Hugh’s Animal Care team responded immediately, and ultimately determined that Hugh had passed away.

A necropsy, or animal autopsy, including full pathology, will be performed by FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab to determine his exact cause of death. The results of that process usually take about 8 or more weeks.

Hugh was 38 years old. He was born at Miami Seaquarium and arrived at Mote from ZooTampa on May 2, 1996, where he served as an ambassador for his species, and routinely and voluntarily took part in manatee research studies. Hugh, and his brother Buffett, are the world’s only manatees to participate in voluntary, detailed behavioral research designed to aid manatee conservation. Hugh’s indelible and lasting legacy will be one of an invaluable contribution to the scientific understanding of manatee behavior and contributions to the conservation of his species.

Our team is forever grateful for the time we had with Hugh and his contribution to manatee conservation, and we are proud of our staff and volunteers for the level of care we provide to all the animals at Mote Aquarium.

Hugh was a beloved part of the Mote family and Sarasota/Manatee County community. We appreciate all the love and support as we collectively mourn his passing.

Please join us in remembering Hugh’s incredible life by sharing your favorite memory of him on Mote’s Facebook page: