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Fern the Zebra Shark

Hugh and Fern the Zebra Shark - popup
Shark tactile training

Hugh's Aquarium Views Video Number 55

There wasn’t a lot of staff, paid and volunteers, back when the Aquarium of the Pacific first opened in June of 1998 so my early volunteer responsibilities included a lot of duties outside the realm of marine mammal husbandry. One of which was hand feeding sharks including one of the aquarium’s charter animal, Fern.

One of the neater of my 20th Century aquarium activities was hand feeding the young zebra sharks in the Tropical Pacific exhibit. That’s when I first met Fern the zebra shark. Fern would swim up to us on the top of the exhibit like a puppy dog and wait to be fed. She was also very gentle while taking food from our hands.

Fern would later be trained for physical interaction with the staff. Being able to physically hold the now much larger zebra shark aids greatly in her healthcare. Because of her training Fern remains very calm and docile during the interaction sessions. Because of this, the stress level is greatly reduced for the shark during physical examinations. It was during one of these training sessions that I first got to hold Fern. Holding so close a shark that I’ve known since 1998 was a very heartwarming moment for me. It was definitely one of the top ten highlights of my 20 years of volunteering at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Check out the video of Fern; one of the aquarium’s charter animals.