It's been quite an experience seeing the turtles, eels, reef fishes and rays from a whole new perspective in the Tropical Oceans Exhibit (that's what we're calling the penguin exhibit while the birds are relocated during the reconstruction of the Giant Ocean Tank). Now there's a brand new animal to observe, and he's a beauty.
The zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) is easy to spot because of his size and
bold spots. This male, named Indo, measures 6 feet long—3 feet of body
and 3 feet of tail! That's pretty average for this species, although
some have been measured at 9 feet. Indo hails from the Indo-West Pacific
region, hence his name. His stout body has ridges on the dorsal, or
top, side with yellow-brown spots. The juveniles have stripes more like
the species' namesake.
Zebra sharks like to snack on mollusks, small fishes, crabs and shrimps. Here at the Aquarium, he's given a variety of seafoods, including capelin and squid (low calorie offerings) and shrimp (only as a treat or as an enrichment or training item, Indo loves shrimp). He's fed 0.75 pounds three times per week to ensure the animal maintains his handsome physique.
Interestingly, this shark is part of an AZA breeding program, much like the penguins at the Aquarium. Indo was one of the first born to the program at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, then lived in Pittsburgh for many years. He has grown up in aquariums and was trained to feed using a target of a yellow circle. The aquarists do this by positioning a pole with the target circle in the water, indicating it’s time for the shark to station. Once the shark sees the circle and touches the target with his nose, he’s rewarded with some tasty morsels.
He's smart, he's handsome and Indo is an exciting new addition to the Tropical Oceans Exhibit. Come on by the Aquarium to see this stunning new addition for yourself!