Aussie town brought to a standstill as cheeky elephant seal throws its weight around

Known by Tassie locals as 'Neil the Seal', his funny antics are now going viral.

An Aussie town's regular visitor has created a stir during the past week after being found in residents' gardens and lying in the middle of the road.

Neil the Seal, a cheeky southern elephant seal that stops by Tasmanian towns each year, has again become a hit on TikTok after new videos of his antics near Dunalley, east of Hobart, were shared by locals.

According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (DNRE), elephant seals come ashore to rest and moult after spending extended periods foraging in the open sea, and they remain ashore for up to four or five weeks.

Videos shared online show police temporarily closing off a road while the animal simply lays in the middle of the bitumen as authorities quietly watch on.

Images of the southern elephant seal, known by locals as 'Neil the seal', in the middle of a Tasmanian road being helped along by Police.
The southern elephant seal is known by locals as 'Neil the Seal' and authorities need to step in at times to move him off roads or from other populated areas. Source: TikTok

'A 400kg wild animal who could kill you'

Authorities warn people to stay clear of the large, almost three-year-old seal as the animals can be dangerous if approached. When Neil made another visit earlier this year, anthrozoologist Dr Bruce Englefield told Yahoo News Australia he believes there’s a danger in befriending the animal.

"As soon as you give them a name, people think of them as being like humans. It creates a problem of thinking he’s lovely and cuddly, but he’s not — he’s a 400kg wild animal who could kill you," he said.

As well as imminent danger to humans if approached, DNRE says seals may become used to people which can compromise their long-term survival — so staying clear is the best thing to do to keep seals happy and safe.

Seals known to pop up in unusual places

Finding seals in populated areas is not new. In October a group on Bruny Island, Tasmania found an Australian fur seal pushed up against a farmer’s fence at the edge of Captain Cook Creek after wild weather. The seal ended up making its way back to the beach.

Across the ditch in New Zealand, staff at a Bunnings hardware store were reportedly in disbelief after a disorientated seal wandered inside. And Benny the seal was regularly seen sunbaking on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

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