Heartbreaking vid shows ‘world’s loneliest manatee’ Romeo swimming alone & spinning in ‘dizzying’ circles in tiny pool

Heartbreaking vid shows ‘world’s loneliest manatee’ Romeo swimming alone & spinning in ‘dizzying’ circles in tiny pool

THE world’s loneliest manatee could finally be freed after distressing footage emerged of the animal swimming in “dizzying” circles in a tiny pool.

Animal rights activist Phil Demers revealed the tragic and isolated existence of Romeo – who has been kept in captivity for 67 years – and slammed Miami Seaquarium for its “atrocious” cruelty.

TikTok/urgentseasThe video shows a clip of Romeo circling around in his tank[/caption]

TikTok/urgentseasThe murky tank where Romeo wallows in misery[/caption]

Romeo is allegedly kept in an area restricted from the publicTikTok/urgentseas

FacebookRomeo has been in solitary confinement since April[/caption]

But Phil now hopes Romeo will finally be released after the US Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed he and his former companion Juliet will be moved to a sanctuary.

Juliet is a fellow manatee who was also taken from the wild as a calf.

Phil explained how each day is the same for Romeo as he spends his time in isolation, wallowing in misery and chomping on lettuce in his murky prison.

The gentle beast is kept in an isolated part of the Miami Seaquarium dubbed “Pompano pools” that are restricted to the public – meaning he has no human contact.

Phil told The Sun: “Romeo’s been alone. He’s been alone back there. It’s been awful to watch.

“They’re (manatees) are semi-social animals, you’re gonna rarely find them on their own in the wild. 

“If you do, they’re either en route to or from others, be it pairs or groups so many stay together.”

He added: “They’re very docile animal, but they they like to be with others. They’re tactile. They like to touch others.

“They like to be close to others. To take that away from an animal that you’ve already taken everything away from takes away its entire essence.”

Describing the footage, the animal rights activist said: “It’s dizzying to watch him spin in circles, but that’s all that’s happening.

“There’s no question that there’s a immeasurable amount of suffering that he’s enduring on account of this.”

Romeo is 67-years old and arrived at the aquarium 66 years ago in 1957 and has been in captivity since then.

And it’s believed he has been swimming alone in his tank for at least seven months.

He was “captured from the wild” as a baby and used as a companion for manatees the aquarium rescued while they still held a rescuing license.

It meant the creature was only allowed to spend short periods of time with each fellow manatee before they were moved into another tank.

It’s thought his biggest heartbreak came when his beloved companion, Juliete, fell pregnant and was taken away from him.

She was placed in the “celebrity pool” which Phil says is smaller and also in an “awful condition” – and he never saw her again.

Phil’s tragic video has racked up more than 20 million views and has famous faces like Dave Portnoy and Kelly Slater sharing it and using the hashtag #FreeRomeo.

Phil is the founder of Urgent Seas, an NGO that aims to create a “safe space” for whistleblowers to expose animal cruelty.

He posts videos taken by anonymous sources exposing mistreatment of animals.

Phil dubs the sources “shadow heroes” and is prepared to take the full flack on their behalf.

He set up the NGO after quitting his job working at a zoo when he blew the whistle and and was sued for exposing them.

The activist said that as soon as he received the footage of Romeo he knew it would be “powerfully impactful” – but he didn’t expect it to reach so many.

“I did not expect this magnitude, this is off the charts,” he said.

Sadly, this tragic tale isn’t the only one to emerge from the aquarium.

It comes after an Orca named Lolita died after enduring “the most egregious form of animal abuse you’ve ever seen”.

Phil said Miami Seaquarium are seeking a “gagging order” on him after he posted a video revealing Lolita’s horrific living conditions.

Despite legal action being threatened, Phil said it will not stop him.

He says he is “at war” and vows to “turn Miami Seaquarium to dust”.

Phil said “no facility is safe” and sent a warning to any organisations who “fall under (his) radar”.

“Don’t waste your time fighting back, just start packing your bags, that’s the advice,” he stated.

He believes the viral clip of Romeo is “karma” for the animals who endured “the worst forms of torture,” and is something “the world needs to see”.

“It seems fitting that one of the very first residents that the Sequarium ever got, who quietly flew under the radar, is the one that takes them down,” Phil said.

“It’s justice, and it seems fitting and right.”

Since the release of the video, Miami-Dade County has now issued Seaquarium with a warning that it has until December 15 to improve its conditions.

And it seems there is now a light at the end of the tunnel.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed it’s working with manatee rescue and rehabilitation experts to assist with the transport effort of the manatees from Miami Seaquarium.

Yesterday Phil announced that Romeo and Juliete are expected to be moved this week.

He explained the move is “high risk” but “urgently necessary” given the failing health and living conditions of the creatures.

He added: “It’s a humbling experience to be a part of such a powerful and effective movement. It’s every activist’s dream to inspire change. I’m incredibly proud of the work of UrgentSeas.”

The Sun has reached out for a comment from Miami Seaquarium.

TikTok/urgentseasEach day is the same for Romeo as he spends his time alone[/caption]

Phil DemersJuliette the manatee at Miami Seaquarium eating a lettuce[/caption]

APThis image shows Juliette swimming with another manatee, Phoenix, in a small tank at Miami Seaquarium[/caption]

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