Romeo and Juliet, a pair of elderly manatees relocated from the Miami Seaquarium, have been successfully transported and are receiving state-of-the-art care at ZooTampa.

With round-the-clock care and medical interventions in place, elderly and overweight manatees Romeo and Juliet, who arrived at ZooTampa at Lowry Park last week, are gradually acclimating to their new environments.

“It’s going to be a long road, but there is no facility better prepared to address the urgent health needs of these manatees while the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership identifies the best option for their long-term placements,” said Dr. Cynthia Stringfield, manatee critical care veterinarian and senior vice president of animal health, conservation and education.

While initial blood tests do not reveal any major abnormalities for either Romeo or Juliet, there are aspects of their overall health that are unknown. 

“Both animals are over 65 years old,” Stringfield said. “At this age, we always have concerns about cardiac health, which is difficult to evaluate in manatees due to their size.”

Stringfield said it is uncommon for manatees, often called ‘sea cows,’ to be as heavy as Juliet who is 3,045 pounds. Eating regularly is essential to her overall health, so the ZooTampa team provided supportive care to Juliet, who had not been eating, which is common for manatees after transport.

Both Romeo and Juliet have moved to the zoo’s rehabilitation pools and are socializing with other manatees — an important aspect for a manatee in human care to thrive.  

“As two of the oldest living manatees, Romeo and Juliet deserve the best care possible as they live out their final years,” Stringfield added.

For nearly three decades, ZooTampa has been entrusted in emergency situations to intervene, triage and save critically injured, sick and orphaned manatees. The zoo’s David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center has three 16,500-gallon medical care pools with controlled floors and two manatee recovery habitats containing 200,000 gallons of water combined.

The zoo invests nearly $1 million every year in manatee work. ZooTampa has cared for more than 500 manatees. Currently, there are 18 manatees at ZooTampa.

More than 1.1 million visitors annually visit the zoo and are educated on the plight of the manatees, the importance of aquatic and marine habitat conservation and the steps the public can take to promote manatee conservation. Visit for more information or follow along on their social media @ZooTampa for up-to-the-minute news.

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