65-year-old manatee, Juliet, dies in Florida zoo months after rescue

Juliet, an elderly manatee, was rescued from an aquarium facility in Miami, Fla. in December 2023. Photo courtesy ZooTampa

One of the world’s oldest known manatee, Juliet, died at the estimated age of 65, ZooTampa announces on social media.

The 3,045-lb sea cow was one of the three rescued manatees from the Miami Seaquarium, where it had been living since the 1950s. Juliet, along with its former tank mate, Romeo, were transferred to ZooTampa in December 2023 to receive urgent medical evaluations at the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center, a facility for the advanced care of critically injured, sick, and orphaned manatees.

“For more than four months, both Romeo and Juliet had successfully adapted to their new environments in the Zoo’s rehabilitation pools and were socializing with other manatees, Romeo continues to thrive,” says Cynthia Stringfield, DVM, ZooTampa’s senior vice president of animal health, conservation, and education. “When Juliet arrived at the zoo, there were many aspects of her overall health that were unknown,” Dr. Stringfield adds. “She was an unusually large animal, weighing 3,045 pounds and her age was estimated at over 65 years old, making her one of the oldest known manatees.”

Juliet the manatee had lived in the Miami Seaquarium since the 1950s before it was transported with its former tank mate, Romeo, to ZooTampa to receive urgent medical care. Photo courtesy ZooTampa

According to the zoo’s statement, Juliet “declined suddenly” overnight following a routine medical assessment, where the animal had exhibited health issues “likely related to her advanced age.”

“Juliet was a beloved animal, [that] captured the hearts of many worldwide,” says Stringfield, adding their team at ZooTampa were frequently contacted by animal care and veterinary professionals, as well as the general public, to credit the decades-old manatee for instilling a passion for gentle sea cows. “Our thoughts are with the entire manatee community and the teams who for more than six decades have cared for her.”

The ZooTampa team announced a necropsy of the manatee will be performed.