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Zebra sharks to breed at aquarium

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Aquarists catch Zorro the zebra shark at the London Aquarium to transfer it to Great Yarmouth in the hope of mating it with a female

Aquarists catch Zorro the zebra shark at the London Aquarium to transfer it to Great Yarmouth in the hope of mating it with a female

Aquarists catch Zorro the zebra shark at the London Aquarium to transfer it to Great Yarmouth in the hope of mating it with a female

Experts are hoping love is in the air - or the water - for two zebra sharks as they attempt to breed in captivity for the first time in Britain.

Eight-year-old Zorro was transported more than 130 miles from the London Aquarium to join his female counterpart, Athena, in Great Yarmouth.

Aquarists at Great Yarmouth Aquarium put out an alert across Europe to seek a suitable partner for the female shark, after she produced hundreds of eggs which have remained infertile without an appropriate mate.

If successful, Zorro and Athena's offspring would be the first zebra sharks to be bred in captivity in this country and help to tackle falling numbers of the species.

Senior Aquarist Darren Gook said: "We thought we'd probably have to go abroad for a likely partner. But happily our colleagues in London saw our appeal, and their lone male zebra shark Zorro sounds the perfect match."

Jamie Oliver, deputy curator at the London Aquarium, said: "Both sharks are in tip top condition and we believe we have a very good chance of succeeding here. We conferred with the Yarmouth team like anxious parents planning a wedding but it won't be a case of 'happy ever after' for the pair.

"The mating game can be a rough affair for female sharks, with the males biting them quite firmly on the neck when they couple. So it will be a holiday romance rather than long term partnership.

"Sharks around the world are really struggling and populations are being decimated. It is great that we can get breeding programmes started and hopefully keep them going for years to come."

Zorro was transported in a specially designed tank called a bongo after he had been moved out of the waters at London Aquarium by three divers.

He is expected to return to the aquarium in a few weeks, as female sharks such as Athena seek solitude after mating.

PA Media