Virgin birth at SA Zoo, shark pup born without male

First-of-its-kind delivery in zoo's 103-year history

Courtesy: San Antonio Zoo
Courtesy: San Antonio Zoo

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Zoo said it is celebrating the first shark hatch in its 103-year history.

The whitespotted bamboo shark pup is a result of parthenogenesis, which zoo officials say is a phenomenon that occurs when an embryo develops and matures without fertilization by a male.

Many animal species, including several species of sharks, can undergo this process, zoo officials said.

This demonstrates how animals have the ability to adapt to various situations or a changing environment. Zoo officials said parthenogenetic sharks typically perish before hatching or do not survive past a few days.

The shark pup has been thriving and has shown considerable growth since hatching on May 2, zoo officials said. The aquarium animal care team named her Colette, which is a French name meaning "victorious."

"We are thrilled to have the first hatch of a shark at San Antonio Zoo and in such a rare way," said Craig Pelke, director of ectotherms. "This occurrence is important for this near-threatened species and further helps us understand how sharks work and survive. Colette is helping us fulfill our mission to love, engage with, act for and protect wildlife."

Zoo officials said whitespotted bamboo sharks are primarily a nocturnal species and are often found in shallow, tropical coral reefs. The sharks are harmless to humans and can be found in the Indo-West Pacific Ocean regions from Madagascar to Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan.

Colette and her mother are doing great, zoo officials said. Guests can see them on exhibit in the Friedrich Aquarium.

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