Three male Zebra Shark pups are the newest additions to the Shark Reef Aquarium Touch Pool at Mandalay Bay, following in the paths of their parents who were among the attraction’s original residents.
The three Zebra Shark pups, who debuted to the public June 29, are now on display in the same touch pool where their parents made their first appearance in 2000 when Shark Reef opened. The pups currently each measure 50 centimeters long and weigh 450 grams.
Zebra Sharks (Stegostoma fasciatum), also called Leopard Sharks, are egg layers. The parents currently reside in the Shipwreck exhibit where the eggs were laid last fall. Staff divers removed the eggs which were taken to the facility’s on-site Husbandry Center for care and observation until they hatched in January, measuring 28 centimeters long and weighing 100 grams. Juvenile sharks, or pups, have dark bodies with tan stripes which contribute to their name. As they grow older, the color changes to tan with dark spots.
“This is a great accomplishment for our ongoing breeding efforts,” said Adrienne Rowland, director of Shark Reef Aquarium. “These shark pups will become part of a cooperative breeding program to ensure the species’ survival so future generations are able to enjoy these magnificent creatures as we do today.”
The pups will remain on exhibit in the Touch Pool until they are ready for transfer this fall to another Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility as recommended by the Species Survival Plan.
While not endangered, Zebra Shark populations in the wild are declining and as such are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They can be found around coral reefs and sandy bottoms in their native habitat of the Indo-Western Pacific region. Although the maximum reported size is nearly 12 feet long, adult lengths of seven feet are more common.
The shark pups join an impressive group of animals at Shark Reef Aquarium, a 90,560-square-foot, predator-based aquarium – the only one of its kind in North America. Since its debut in 2000, Shark Reef Aquarium has become a must-see Las Vegas attraction and educational facility, where adults and children alike can enjoy and learn about more than 2,000 divinely dangerous animals including a rare Komodo Dragon, a Giant Pacific Octopus, sharks, crocodiles and piranhas.
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is open daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through the summer. Last entry is one hour prior to closing. Ticket prices are $18 for adults and $12 for children; children four and under are free. Discounts are available for Nevada residents with identification. For more information, please call (702) 632-4555.