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First sharks to be homed at the Zoo for around 20 years
Four epaulette sharks, known as the ‘walking shark’, have travelled hundreds of miles from Hull to their new home at Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Thanks to a new 21,000 litre seawater tank, which mimics the tide and waves of the Great Barrier Reef, they will become the first sharks to have been homed at the Zoo for around 20 years.
The species can survive 60 times longer than humans without oxygen by slowing down their breathing. They also have the ability to ‘walk’ on land, using their fins to navigate the seabed and rock pools.
Currently only 40cm long, the epaulettes, which were bred as part of a European monitoring programme at The Deep Aquarium in Hull, could grow to just over a metre in length.
Bristol Zoo’s aquarium curator, Jonny Rudd, said: “We’ve not had the facilities to house sharks for many years and it’s something we are often asked about by our guests.
“Their tank will be filled with live coral which we have been propagating behind-the-scenes and we are using natural seawater shipped in from the south coast.
“A lot of work has gone into this new habitat, starting with the construction of suitable water-holding tanks and sterilisation systems to allow us to hold enough seawater to fill and maintain it, so it will be great to see it full of exotic species.”
The three females and one male will go into quarantine for a few weeks before going into their new tank at the Zoo in June 2016. It is hoped they’ll be joined by different species of shark and exotic fish in the near future.
Commonly found in the tropical waters of Australia and New Guinea, epaulettes are distinguishable by their large, white-margined black spot behind each pectoral fin.
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