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26 Jul 2019 15:02:55
Ani, the cloned Eagle Ray born at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium celebrates her first birthday!
Ani the Ocellated Eagle Ray that shot to stardom following her miracle birth last year, is turning one on Friday 26th July!
Last year, our team here at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium discovered that Freckle - an eleven year old female Eagle Ray had given birth to a baby Eagle Ray despite not having contact with a male for over nine years. Freckle demonstrated a cloning process called parthenogenesis and as a result, Ani, named after Anakin Skywalker was born despite having no father.
Libby Eyre, Senior Aquarist and Ray Trainer here at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium said, “We’re so thrilled to be celebrating little Ani’s first birthday today! Ani is still adorably cute and really stands out in the oceanarium which makes her very popular with our guests. We thought we’d mark the celebration of her first birthday with a custom-made Ani the Eagle Ray cake.
“The team here is very proud of Ani as she is now the oldest known Ocellated Eagle Ray clone in the world! She’s in great health and displays all the expected characteristics of a one year old Eagle Ray - which means we’re preparing to start enrichment sessions to help stimulate her physically and psychologically in the coming months.”
Freckle and Ani live in the oceanarium at Dugong Island with six other female Ocellated Eagle Rays, one Leopard Shark, and many colourful and varied 'bony' fish and staff can confirm there are no males in the tank. Libby added, “If you doubt that Ani is a clone, I challenge you to come in and spot the male Eagle Ray in the tank.”
Adam Stow, Associate Professor at Macquarie University, specialising in Genetics and Marine Conservation says, “Freckle, a female Eagle Ray at SEA LIFE Sydney successfully cloned herself and gave birth to a young Eagle Ray via a process called parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is a very rare reproductive strategy where an embryo develops without fertilisation. It is a rare occurrence among vertebrates such as Eagle Rays.”