Open 9 am - 6 pm
A zebra shark swims in the Shedd Aquarium

Zebra Shark

Zebra sharks don't have to swim to breathe. They rest on the reef floor with their mouths open and throat muscles pumping water across their gills. While adults are spotted, the pups start life with zebralike dark and light bands on their long tails, making them look like venomous snakes to predators..

Zebra shark pups have a long, thin body and a very long, striped tail.

About those spots

"Zebra" is a strange name for these spotted sharks—until you see the striped pups. The dark-and-light bands on their long, long tails mimic the markings of venomous sea snakes, making predators steer clear of the otherwise edible 8- to 14-inch pups. As the sharks grow—to lengths of 7 to 8 feet—the dark bands break up into hundreds of small spots on a light background, camouflaging adults against a reef floor of coral sand or rubble.

A fresh seafood diet—vitamins included

At Shedd, the zebra sharks are fed a diet of squid, clams and a variety of fish. They are also given a multivitamin that’s often tucked into a “fish burrito”—a fish stuffed inside a squid—that helps keep them healthy. In the wild, zebras are nocturnal hunters. Slow, slim and sinuous, they can squirm into crevices and small caves in the coral. Then, like vacuum cleaners, they suck in snails and clams, along with crabs, shrimp and small fishes, all of which they crush with their powerful teeth.

A zebra shark swims in Shedd's Wild Reef, its long, freckled body distinctive among the other shark species.

Meet the Sharks

From reef sharks in constant motion to small deep-ocean sharks resting vertically on a rock wall, these awe-inspiring predators are found across our oceans—and throughout Shedd Aquarium. Elegantly slicing through the water, each is different from the next, but all display an eye-catching mixture of beauty and grace. Look closer at the sharks that call Shedd home.

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