It's legal to own some types of sharks, but it's definitely not legal to steal them from an aquarium. In late July that's exactly what happened to Miss Helen the horn shark, according to the Telegraph.
One man has already been charged in the theft, and two more suspects are being questioned about the incident at the San Antonio Aquarium.
The man reached in and grabbed a shark from a tank.
Then he wrapped it up and rolled it out in a stroller.
Law enforcement officials tracked down the man responsible fairly quickly, and the aquarium released a Facebook statement that they had Miss Helen back two days later.
She was returned safe and sound.
San Antonio Aquarium's Jamie Shank told the Telegraph she was so relieved that things turned out OK. "We didn't know if we would get her back," she said. "I was devastated when I found out that it happened, but now that we have her here I am overjoyed. ... She is a little fighter; she's a survivor. I am very proud of her."
According to CBS News, the man charged with felony theft is Anthony Shannon, who confessed to the crime when police located him and the shark at his home. He claimed to have taken the shark from the exhibit to rescue it.
"It was wrong to just take him like that," Shannon said. (Miss Helen is a girl btw.) "But, at that point in time, it was just something that I had to do," Shannon continued.
CBS News reported that police found three saltwater tanks in his home with five other sharks.
According to the Telegraph, police believe Shannon was replacing a horn shark that had died in his collection and did not intend to sell the shark.
Owning sharks is a rising trend, especially among the rich, according to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal. SFGate reported that one such owner told the WSJ that after her leopard shark died during a heat wave in Los Angeles, she just bought a replacement.
As Oceana marine scientist Mariah Pfleger previously told Azula, just because it's legal to buy and own some species of sharks, that doesn't mean you should.
Especially if you're not an experienced aquarist.
"First, they require a lot of space," Pfleger said. She continued:
"[And] they require a lot of equipment. In order to keep the water chemistry good, the temperature correct and the saltiness of the water (salinity) in check, you have to invest A LOT into the equipment you own. If you only own mediocre equipment, it could devastate the animals in the tank."
It may be "trendy" to own a shark, but it could be disastrous for the animal if it's not cared for properly.
For example, although Miss Helen was returned to the aquarium alive, the Telegraph reported that she suffered a minor belly injury. She also endured stress during travel, because the water she was transported in was 20 degrees colder than her aquarium water.
Additionally, the San Antonio Aquarium's Facebook statement revealed that Helen wasn't the only animal that Shannon allegedly put in harm's way that day.
According to the statement, Shannon didn't have a way to get the shark out of the exhibit after grabbing it out of the water, so he reportedly took a bucket from a back room. The aquarium said the bucket had been filled with cleaning solution, which Shannon allegedly dumped into their filtration system.
From there, it fed into all the tanks on that system — including those containing jellyfish, baby seahorses and more.
Fortunately a staff member discovered the problem and quickly counteracted that with sodium thiosulfate before too much damage could be done, per the Facebook statement.
In any case, that means that Miss Helen was transported in a bucket of extra-cold water with cleaning solution remnants in it. It's a wonder she did survive long enough to be returned to the aquarium.