Zeus, Zion and Zulu

In our Great Barrier Reef tank, three beautiful zebra sharks can be seen swimming serenely around this huge 700,000 litre tank. . Zeus is the only male of the three, and from beneath you can see his claspers, two organs used for reproduction.

It can be forgiven if Zion and Zulu get muddled up, as they are twin sisters! Not only that, but they are genetically identical to each other, as well as their mother. Zion and Zulu’s mother lived in an aquarium tank situated in Dubai. Despite having no male tankmates, she still produced eggs! This is because of a tactic some sharks use called parthenogenesis. In short, some sharks may never find a suitable partner in the big blue sea, so females can undergo this process without the need of a mate to keep their lineage running. The eggs produced by Zion and Zulu’s mother were brought over to the National Marine Aquarium where they hatched! Because they have no father, this does mean that these zebra sharks have none of the genetic variation normally offered by the male, so their children are effectively clones of their mother, and eachother.

Did you know? Zebra sharks are named as they start of life with black and white stripes which eventually diffuse into spots (they’re sometimes called leopard sharks, too).

Be sure to say hello Zeus, Zion and Zulu in the Great Barrier Reef tank. Plus, their feeding time is at 11:00 and 15:00 every day, when you’ll be able to see how our husbandry team condition them to follow a target. 

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