ZooTampa: Beloved manatee Juliet passes away

Juliet was estimated to be over 65 years old.

TAMPA, Fla. — ZooTampa has announced the passing of one of its beloved manatees, Juliet.

In a Facebook post Sunday, the zoo said Juliet had undergone routine medical assessments over the past week that found health issues likely related to her age. She was believed to be over 65 years old.

“She declined suddenly overnight, and sadly passed away early this morning,” the post reads.

Juliet was transferred to ZooTampa in December of 2023, along with her companion Romeo, to receive care from the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center. Romeo and Juliet were previously in the care of the Miami Seaquarium, where they had lived since the 1950s.

ZooTampa said many aspects of Juliet’s health were unknown when she arrived in their care. She was “unusually large,” weighing more than 3,000 pounds, and was one of the oldest known manatees.

RELATED: Since January, 5 manatees have died in Hernando County. FWC believes this is responsible.

Romeo and Juliet had successfully adapted to their life at ZooTampa, the Facebook post said, and Romeo continues to thrive.

“Juliet was a beloved animal, who captured the hearts of many worldwide,” said Dr. Cynthia Stringfield with ZooTampa. “We would be contacted frequently by animal care professionals, veterinarians and even the general public who credit her for instilling their passion for these gentle sea cows. Our thoughts are with the entire manatee community and the teams who for more than six decades have cared for her.”

ZooTampa said a necropsy will be performed.

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