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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Now to a tiger shark living in the relative comfort of an aquarium in Long Beach, California. And when you think of sharks, you probably think of them as hardcore carnivores - they'll eat just about any thing: fish, seals, the occasional surfer. But as we read this morning in the Los Angeles Times, this particular tiger shark is exhibiting some unusual behavior. She's a picky eater.

We're joined now by Steve Blair. He's assistant curator at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. And I understand you're feeding the shark now.

Mr. STEVE BLAIR (Assistant Curator, Aquarium of the Pacific): We're feeding our tiger shark right now as she's swimming comfortably in Shark Lagoon. She's about 5 feet long and about 35 pounds. And we acquired this tiger shark from a fisherman, actually from a fisherman through a collector in Taiwan. And she was rescued. She was going to be unfortunately eaten as food had she not been saved. So she's doing pretty well. Currently, one of our aquarist here at Shark Lagoon, Jessica(ph), is trying to feed her. And we do have on the menu a restaurant quality, very high quality diverse array of food, including ahi tuna, skipjack tuna, mahi mahi fillets, and fillets of hoki - it's a type of fish like pollock.

BRAND: Hmm. That sounds delicious and something that I would love eat if I could afford it. And yet she seems to be turning up her snout at it, from time to time?

Mr. BLAIR: Well, she just ate a piece of skipjack. So that's the current news of the day for you.

BRAND: So Steve, what are your hypotheses for why she's become a picky eater?

Mr. BLAIR: Well, there's a couple of reasons why she might be picky. Foremost is that we're - they're very hard to keep, and we don't know a lot about them. In the wild, they're known to be picky, but remember, this is a baby. So she's only 11 months old right now. So she's pretty much afraid of everything. Large sharks, and even large tiger sharks, will prey on other small sharks. So she's very nervous because of her age and size. But the mystery of the tiger shark is unfolding before us. We don't know a lot about these animals. And as we push the boundaries of husbandry out, we're learning more and more about how to keep her healthy and comfortable.

And I think, actually, she just ate another piece of skipjack, and she's getting close to her - you're lucky, she's getting close to her 500 grams right now. So that's a good sign.

BRAND: So at the outset, I said she was a picky eater, but all through our conversation, she's been, you know, feasting, gulping down her fish.

Mr. BLAIR: Yeah, yeah. It's a good day. She's eating her skipjack. We've provided some hoki. She didn't like that. So yeah, that's good. We like days where she looks comfortable in the exhibit and she eats well and eats easily, and that's a good day. We get a lot of days like that, but we also have the picky days where, you know, we have to go through 10 or 12 different food items in the day to find kind of the one that she triggers on for whatever reason.

BRAND: I have to say, though, as a mom, if I'm making a meal, and my kids say, I don't want that, I'm not eating it, then I say well, I'm sorry, that's all we're having. I'm not going to make you another meal, and they eventually eat it when they get hungry.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BLAIR: We try to keep our shark in the best care here. We give restaurant-quality food, and we give her as much as she'll eat on any given day. And that's our goal here is to get her to grow as big and healthy and happy as we can.

BRAND: So maybe I should send my kids to you. They'll get a better meal.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BLAIR: Well, I won't be feeding any strained peas, but if your kids like mahi mahi fillets, then maybe.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Okay, thanks a lot.

Mr. BLAIR: Thanks a lot.

BRAND: That's Steve Blair. He's the assistant curator at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, and we've been talking about their young tiger shark, who is sometimes a picky eater.

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