2 manatees named Romeo and Juliet that have lived in a tank at a Florida theme park since 1956 will finally be freed after pressure from activists

  • Two manatees will be released from a Miami aquarium that has held them since 1956.

  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service is helping to relocate Romeo and Juliet, both in their 60s.

  • The USDA cited Miami's Seaquarium with multiple violations earlier this year.

After a near lifetime of captivity, two manatees will finally be freed from a Florida aquarium that authorities say held at least one of them in deteriorating living conditions.

Romeo and Juliet, 67 and 61 years old, have lived at the Miami Seaquarium since they were captured as calves in 1956, The Guardian reported.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service told the outlet the manatees will be relocated soon, potentially next week, and that the agency is collaborating with rehabilitation experts regarding their transport.

The news came after Urgent Spears, an advocacy group, posted drone footage of a Romeo swimming alone in a filthy pool that appeared to be isolated from the public, according to WPLG 10, a local ABC affiliate. The footage was from November 25, Urgent Seas said in its post.

The US Department of Agriculture also issued a scathing inspection report in September, accusing Seaquarium of multiple failures, including "inadequate handling or control of animals." It also cited marine enclosures that had fallen "into states of disrepair" and injured animals, according to WPLG.

An orca named Lolita, who was about 56 years old, was meant to be released from Seaquarium as well, but she died in August before the transfer could take place, per the Smithsonian Magazine. Lolita was captured from Washington state's Penn Cove in 1970 when she was only a few years old.

Animal rights advocates got louder about the risks of marine captivity following the 2013 release of "Blackfish," a documentary film that examined the consequences of keeping marine mammals in captivity. The film centered on an orca named Tilikum, who lived much of his life in captivity at SeaWorld until he died in 2017.

Seaquarium has until December 15 to rectify the issues in the USDA report, the outlet reported. The aquarium did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, nor did a spokesperson from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

 Correction: December 3, 2023 — An earlier version of this story misstated that Lolita was alive and still set to be released. The orca died in August.

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