Georgia On Their Mind: Zoo's Sand Tiger Sharks Heading South to New Home
(Pittsburgh) (July 2016)—The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s five sand tiger sharks - two males and three females - are heading south to a new home and breeding opportunities at the Georgia Aquarium.
Be sure to stop by Water’s Edge and visit with the sand tiger sharks before they leave August 16.
“We know that many of our visitors love sharks and even with the sand tiger sharks leaving, we still have nine different species of sharks at PPG Aquarium,” says Dwayne Biggs, Curator of Aquatic Life for the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. “Our visitors will still have the chance to visit with this magnificent species.”
Sand tiger sharks are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Natural Resources (IUCN) because of their low reproductive rate. Females only reproduce every two to three years and difficulties such as poor survival of young, overfishing, pollution, lack of food, and rising ocean water temperatures have led to population concerns.
“Working together with the Georgia Aquarium on this important research project to protect sand tiger shark populations in the future is a major step forward in conservation efforts,” says Biggs. “The situation has become critical. If something isn’t done today, sand tiger sharks could become extinct. We can’t let that happen.”
The sand tiger sharks are moving to Neptune Park at Marineland Dolphin Adventure, a sister facility of the Georgia Aquarium. “It is a great environment for the sharks,” says Biggs. “They will continue to have large exhibit pools that are outdoors and contain filtered natural seawater. We are hoping that their exposure to the changes in seawater temperature plus the natural change in seasons will encourage successful mating behaviors.”
The pool and tunnel that the sand tiger sharks are leaving will be updated following their departure. The vacancy will allow for updates and routine maintenance to be completed within that facility. The Zoo anticipates the renovation work to take up to three months.When the work is complete, the Zoo will introduce Coolio, our northern elephant seal, to visitors. “Coolio was a rescue animal that arrived with various medical conditions, including limited sight. Since his arrival we have made great strides in his rehabilitation,” says Biggs. “He will always have some limiting factors that prevent his release back into the wild, but he is now much more comfortable adapting to new sounds and environmental differences.”