The Latest Internet Sensation Is Neil the Seal From Tasmania

Neil the seal, pictured here in Tasmania in July 2022, has become an online sensation. Credit – Courtesy of Kirsty De Lacy

A A 1,300-pound seal named Neil has taken over a small coastal town in Tasmania, going viral for crashing into parking lot poles and stopping a woman from going to work after blocking her driveway. his car while sleeping.

While his antics have gained followers on social media, local conservation authorities are concerned about human interest in him and are warning locals to be careful in their interactions. with Neil.

Here’s what you need to know about Neil the seal.

Who is Neil the seal?

Neil is a 600 kg (1,322 pounds) Southern elephant seal in Tasmania, an island state in Australia, according to news reports.

Born in Salem Bay in 2020, Neil was tagged with the Marine Conservation Program. He has been spotted in several locations in southern Tasmania, according to Tasmanias Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Elephant seals are a threatened species in Australia, and adult males average between 1,500 and 3,700 kg (3,000 to 8,000 pounds).

The Marine Conservation Program of Tasmania said on its Facebook page that he was hauled in, a normal behavior for seals where they come ashore to rest for four to five weeks after foraging and return to the sea when ready. .

TIME has reached out to the agency for confirmation of Neils’ size and additional information.

Why is Neil the stamp?

Neils got his own Instagram and TikTok accounts. At the time of going to press, #neiltheseal had amassed over 47.1 million views on TikTok.

Locals shared videos of him playing cones, floating on roads and lying on lawns.

As Neil grew older, he also gained more attention from local and now international news. In November, he compounded his disruptions by sleeping in front of a local residents’ car, preventing him from going to work that day, according to photos and an interview with .

What concerns do environmental conservationists have?

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment warned that elephant seals should not be disturbed on land and the speed at which they move at their peak makes them vulnerable if harassed.

The Marine Conservation Program has repeatedly told people and pets to stay at least 20m (65 feet) away from Neil, requiring interventions to relocate and try to keep the location private. seal for everyone’s safety.

In March 2022, the agency said Neil, a frequent beachgoer, was found near the town of Woodbridge in southern Tasmania, this time gaining a lot of weight since he was seen last year.

The agency told people to stay away, and in July, posted another warning that if the public didn’t follow the instructions, they would have to move Neil, which has been towing a nearby beach since June.

De Lacy posted in July 2022 that they were aware of three incidents of seal poking or poking and urged the public to report any potential acts of animal cruelty.

This year, Neil’s interest and conservation concerns continue. The Marine Conservation Program posted in April that Neil was found near another beach and warned again that seals are large wild animals and for the safety of the seal and the public should not be disturbed.

Two days later, the agency said they were moving Neil to another location because of Neil’s continued dangers, being near a road, lots of people and dogs, and people and pets if they so close, said no. it’s cool that people are harassing and touching the stamp.

Despite conservationists trying to keep Neils’ location a secret, he has been spotted elsewhere in Tasmania and on social media. This week, 7NEWS Australia reported that Neil was found in Dunalley, a town of 300 people.

Anyone in the area with concerns about a seal can contact the Marine Conservation Program.

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