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Katrina Craven (423) 785-3011
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Stephanie Stone (415) 321-8119
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Endangered Beluga Sturgeon will be Reunited with Brother
Delta Air Lines Transports 7-Foot Fish on 767 Passenger Plane

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (May 25, 2006) – Brothers Horace and Boris are rare creatures indeed. The brothers are beluga sturgeon, separated by fifteen years and more than 2,000 miles, and they’ll soon be reunited at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

The brothers have been U.S. residents since 1976, when Moscow State University sent two hatchlings to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in exchange for a tissue sample from one of the Academy’s preserved coelacanth specimens. The brothers were tankmates at the Academy’s Steinhart Aquarium. Then in 1991, Horace was sent to Chattanooga to help open the Tennessee Aquarium.

“The Tennessee Aquarium is the world’s largest freshwater aquarium and Horace the sturgeon has become a well-known ambassador for freshwater habitats,” said Charlie Arant, Tennessee Aquarium president. “We’re excited about adding Boris to our Volga River exhibit and hope that he and his brother will heighten our visitors’ appreciation for these amazing creatures. We also hope to raise awareness about the plight of these endangered animals in the wild.”
Beluga sturgeon produce the most highly desirable caviar and because of this, beluga sturgeon have been fished to near extinction in much of their range. When Boris joins Horace on exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium, they will be the only two members of this endangered species currentl1y on display in the United States.

Yesterday, Boris boarded a cross-country Delta Air Lines flight to be reunited with his brother for the first time in fifteen years.

“I was here 30 years ago when Boris and Horace first arrived in San Francisco,” says Tom Tucker, Curator of Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. “I’m sad to see an old friend go, but I know Boris will have a great home in Tennessee.”

In preparation for the journey, biologists at the California Academy of Sciences carried Boris by stretcher into a special transport tank that measured eight feet in diameter and held 600 gallons of water. They pumped the tank full of oxygen, loaded it onto a flatbed truck, and drove it to the San Francisco International Airport, where they were met by members of the Delta Air Logistics team. There, Boris was placed in a special pallet and loaded into the cargo hold of a 767 passenger plane bound for Atlanta. The pallet weighed more than 5,000 pounds and would have been a pricey package, but Delta Air Lines generously offered to donate their transport services in order to make the move possible.

Boris was the first passenger off the plane when Flight 632 landed in Atlanta. There, he was met by biologists from the Tennessee Aquarium, where his vital signs and water quality were checked. Fresh oxygen was added to his tank before he boarded another truck for the last leg of his journey. When he arrived at the Tennessee Aquarium, he was transferred to a larger tank, where he will stay under observation for the next 45 days to make sure he is healthy. Once he passes his check-up, Boris will join the more than 12,000 animals that swim, fly and crawl at the Tennessee Aquarium. He will be introduced to the 13,000-gallon Volga River exhibit, where he will have plenty of room to get reacquainted with his brother.

When the California Academy of Sciences first acquired Boris and Horace, the two hatchlings were just four inches long. Today, Boris is about seven feet long and is still growing. These fish live to be quite old – with some records indicating a maximum age of 100 years.

The tank that Boris once occupied in San Francisco is now empty, but it won’t stay empty for long. The California Academy of Sciences is currently building a new museum and aquarium in Golden Gate Park that is scheduled to open in 2008. The new Steinhart Aquarium will host over 10,000 animals, and the Academy is already beginning to acquire new animals for the planned exhibits.

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $17.95 per adult and $9.50 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $7.95 per adult and $5.50 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $22.95 for adults and $13.50 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. Call 267-FISH to join.

The California Academy of Sciences, including Steinhart Aquarium and the Natural History Museum, is open to the public at 875 Howard Street. Admission to the Academy at 875 Howard Street is: $7 for adults; $4.50 for youth ages 12 to 17, Seniors ages 65+ and students with valid ID; $2 for children ages four to 11; and free for children ages three and younger. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm every day. Phone: 415-321-8000. Web site: www.calacademy.org. The California Academy of Sciences, the fourth largest natural history museum in the United States, is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the Natural History Museum. The Academy is in the midst of an extensive rebuilding project in Golden Gate Park. Pritzker prize-winning architect Renzo Piano is designing the new Academy, which is expected to open in 2008.

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