Two manatees that have spent nearly a lifetime in captivity are due to be freed from a controversial Florida theme park after an advocacy group posted aerial footage of one of them swimming alone in a filthy pool, and the US Department of Agriculture issued a scathing inspection report.
Romeo and Juliet, which are 67 and 61 years old respectively, have lived at the Miami Seaquarium since they were captured from the wild as calves in 1956. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the manatees will be relocated very soon.
The move comes after Urgent Seas posted drone footage of Romeo swimming alone in a dirty pool that appeared to be isolated away from the public on 25 November.
This came on the back of a critical report from the US Department of Agriculture in September, which accused the Seaquarium of multiple failures, citing that marine enclosures had fallen into states of disrepair, and that there was ‘inadequate handling or control of animals'.
This is not the first time that the Miami Seaquarium has been at the centre of a media storm. Back in October, our sister site Divernet reported on how the facility had been accused of reneging on an undertaking to return to the ocean a male dolphin that was the former tank mate of the killer whale Lolita, which itself tragically died in August before the Seaquarium could make good on its pledge to return the animal to the wild.