Zoe the zebra shark—a long-time icon at the National Aquarium, Baltimore—now has a companion in our Wings in the Water exhibit!
Last week, we added a young male zebra shark to the tank. At about 4 feet long, the male zebra shark—named Zeke—is much smaller than Zoe, and he is also much lighter in color.
Zoe has been at the Aquarium for 12 years, and is estimated to be about 17 years old. Zeke is 2 years old.
Zebra sharks are so named because as juveniles, these sharks have dark bodies with yellowish stripes. As the sharks grow, the stripes break up and the pattern changes to dark spots on a grayish-tan background. Because of this change, zebra sharks are often referred to as leopard sharks.
Two more features make this shark difficult to confuse with any other: the prominent ridges running the length of the body and the impressive tail, which is nearly as long as the body itself.
Zeke has mostly lost his stripes, but you can see that his spots are much closer together than Zoe’s. He came to the Aquarium as a small pup in August 2010. Since then, Aquarium staff has cared for Zeke behind the scenes, and prepared him for introduction into the exhibit.
Part of that preparation included training Zeke to take fish from the end of a pole held at the surface of the water by Aquarium staff. For the safety of our animals and staff, the sharks at the Aquarium are always pole fed, not hand fed, by the divers.
Zeke is adapting and responding very well to his new environment. Be sure to look for Zeke the next time you visit!