VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Spotted at the Virginia Aquarium!
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center announced the birth of two female spotted eagle rays, which they say is a significant milestone for both the Aquarium as well as for zoos and aquariums around the world.
The pups were born to mother Sadana, named after the Sadana Islands on the northern coast of the Red Sea, on Jan. 26.
Newborn spotted eagle rays don't require parental care and are self-sufficient at birth.
The pups are currently in an off-exhibit area while Aquarium staff continue to closely monitor their diets, behaviors and welfare. The Aquarium's veterinary and animal care teams are providing them with additional nutritional support until they get better at eating on their own.
They'll be taken to a new home at a fellow Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facility once they reach six to 12 months old.
Marine scientists say spotted eagle ray reproduction is exceedingly rare, and the typical gestation period can be from six to 13 months.
The species is listed as "Near Threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are included in a Species Survival Plan through the AZA.