A HUGE 1,300lb seal has caused chaos in a small Australian town by rampaging through gardens and napping in roads.
But while locals have been warned not to touch him, Neil the Seal has become quite the celebrity in Dunalley, Tasmania.
7NEWSNeil the Seal is a whopping 1,300lbs[/caption]
Instagram/@neiltheseal22Despite his size, he is known to be playful and has become a favourite with locals[/caption]
7NEWSHowever, Neil has also been a bit of a nuisance by napping in the middle of roads[/caption]
Since first coming to shore as a 21-month-old pup in July 2022, Neil is a well-known member of the local community.
An Instagram account with more than 128,000 followers was even created to document the adventures of the playful pup.
But after returning to shore in early December for his latest “haul out” – a period in which seals come to land to rest – Neil’s global stardom really took off.
A TikTok account was made to further document his havoc wreaking across Dunalley, garnering more than 867,000 followers and 14million likes.
Known for venturing away from the coast and hauling himself about the streets of Tasmania’s southern beach suburbs, Neil has provided plenty of entertainment.
His recent run of chaos includes lying in front of a local real estate office and causing a commotion outside a fish and chip shop.
Recent photos and videos also showed Neil chomping on traffic cones, disfiguring road marker posts and inconveniencing traffic.
Before that, in November, Neil hit the headlines when he stopped a local woman from going to work by taking a nap in front of her car.
Amber Harris woke up at 6.20am to the sound of what she thought was “somebody breaking into my car”, she told ABC Hobart at the time.
But it was, in fact, just Neil, who for some reason had made his way up to Amber’s house on the other side of the beach.
As a much larger and more mature beast, however, concerns have been raised over people’s safety when Neil returns to land.
And while both social media accounts have been created with lightheartedness and a fun way to document his life, it has also brought its own issues.
As Neil has grown in popularity, more people have been visiting the local area with hopes of catching a glimpse of the playful beast in action.
However, this has become increasingly problematic.
“We need to remember these are wild animals,” said Mary-Anne Lea, a professor from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania.
“It’s OK when animals are cute and interacting in generally safe ways, but then they become bigger and other natural behaviours kick in – along with their hormones – and you can start to have interactions that you are less fond of.”
Despite his 600kg mass, Neil is capable of move his bulk with speed if harassed.
The owner of his Instagram account, a Tasmanian resident, was also forced to stop posting Neil’s up-to-date location following talks with marine biologists.
In a post uploaded on December 19, the account holder said interest in the seal from TikTokers was also cause for concern.
“I would ask everyone that engages with Neil to please remember that he is not there for our financial gain, he is a wild creature with his own unique personality and deserves the respect of all people,” the Instagram post stated.
But while the post aims to protect human safety, it also protects Neil’s.
Lea referenced the story of Freya the walrus, who enchanted people in Norway in 2022 by climbing on to boats and basking in the sun, attracting vast crowds.
However, Freya was euthanised after Norwegian authorities declared her a persistent threat to human security.
“She literally was loved to death,” Lea said, before adding that people should “join the dots” between what happened with Freya and what can happen when a large mammal is regularly interacting with humans.
In August, a baby seal died of shock after a woman was seen picking the animal up, despite being told not to.
The woman alerted a local wildlife protection charity before she wrapped the pup in a coat and put it into the back of a car.
Instagram/@neiltheseal22/@cocodelacyNeil is known to be a big fan of traffic cones[/caption]
Instagram/@neiltheseal22The playful beast drags himself around town and into people’s gardens[/caption]Leave a comment