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Ziggy the nurse shark returns to Newport Aquarium after rehabilitation for spinal deformity

Newport Aquarium has returned a longtime resident and guest-favorite animal to the aquarium.

Ziggy the nurse shark has been receiving special rehabilitation from the aquarium’s Animal Care Team in an offsite facility since February.

Ziggy is one of the original residents of Newport Aquarium, having arrived before it opened back in 1999. She came with a spinal deformity that slowed her down but never kept her down. The nurse shark has been receiving therapy to help her strengthen her swimming. By swimming against a current on her non-favored side, she’s been able to improve her mobility.

The team has kept her motivated with her favorite foods including mackerel. While Ziggy’s deformity is something that can never be fully corrected, she’s now well enough to join her friends back at the aquarium like Denver the loggerhead sea turtle.

“It’s so rewarding to work with an animal like Ziggy with special needs,” said Kelly Sowers, Newport Aquarium’s Curator. “She really needs us and to see her back swimming at the aquarium with an improved quality of life just makes all the hard work worth it.”

Fortunately, Ziggy doesn’t have the same constant need to swim as other sharks. Most sharks have to move continuously to keep water flowing over their gills. Nurse sharks like Ziggy are unique in that they have the ability to pump water over their gills using the muscles around their mouth. That lets Ziggy swim when she likes but then find resting spots to relax. One of her favorite places to hang out is under the clear floor in the Surrounded by Sharks Tunnel.

There, she’s long been a guest favorite as they look down at the large shark beneath their feet.

Newport Aquarium is open daily with advance ticket purchase or annual passholder reservations required. The new Family Field Trip program with free grade-specific worksheets is now available Monday through Friday.

To learn more, visit NewportAquarium.com or call 800-406-FISH (3474).

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