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The Loro Parque aquarium team has published an article in the prestigious scientific  Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, on the age and growth of zebra sharks from the breeding programme that has been carried out in our zoological park for the last eight years. These programmes allow a continuous study of the growth of the individuals and their relationship between age, length and weight and it is a unique opportunity to increase knowledge of the species. The continuity of these programmes is crucial and will allow more reliable and accurate results to be established in the future.

The results show a strong positive relationship between length and weight. This relationship allows the study of certain physiological condition factors, however, the possible effect of being under human care on the growth of the specimens cannot be ignored. Environmental variables, such as water temperature, together with the absence of predator pressure and assured food supply, directly affect the growth of individuals.

Due to its declining populations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified it as endangered, especially considering the population in India and Southeast Asia. Despite this, zebra sharks are common in aquariums around the world, many of which have contributed to the conservation of this and other species of elasmobranchs (subspecies of fish, which includes sharks) through breeding programmes under human care.

Shark populations are essential to marine balance and play a critical role in ecosystem health. Therefore, understanding and studying these populations, even in controlled environments, is essential for the future of these ecosystems.

From Loro Parque, we congratulate the aquarium team of our park for these great contributions to the field of animal research, fruit of the constant work during all these years in the care of the animals that live in our animal embassy.

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