This just in: Shark ray pups are kind of adorable.
The Newport Aquarium says eight pups born last month have reached an important milestone.
"The pups are doing really well," says Chief Conservation Officer Ric Urban. "We have hit our 30 day mark and the eight pups, three boys and five girls are just doing wonderful."
Urban says zoos and aquariums measure a mark of success at 30 days. A ninth, female pup died shortly after birth.
"Right now, we are cautiously optimistic on the success of these shark rays. We are happy that they are growing and thriving."
Urban says the pups have grown from 2-2.5 pounds at birth to up to four pounds now. He says they're eating on their own and showing lots of activity and movement.
"They look so vibrant in the tanks. It's a great thing for the Newport Aquarium to be able to share with our global community."
The Aquarium is one of the first in the world to breed shark rays. Not much is known about raising shark rays. All seven pups from the mother's first pregnancy died shortly after birth. Biologist believe they didn't get enough nutrients. Special foods were brought in this time.
"At what point do we say we're 'in the clear?' We don't know that much about shark rays, so every day we're learning something. To be totally comfortable, I think will be the day when these shark ray pups meet another girl or guy and have shark ray babies on their own. That would be really cool."
Once aquarium biologists think the pups are ready, one or two will be transferred to an exhibit at the Newport Aquarium. A timeline hasn't been determined. Right now, they're being cared for at an off-site animal health facility.
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