ATLANTA – The world's largest aquarium has added two of the world's largest fish.
They joined two male whale sharks, Ralph and Norton, in their 6 million-gallon tank. The four sharks are the only ones of their kind on display outside of Asia.
The females were flown more than 8,000 miles from Taipei, Taiwan. They received a police escort from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and were hoisted into the giant tank around midnight.
"They're in great shape," said Bernie Marcus, the Home Depot co-founder who bankrolled the aquarium almost single-handedly with a gift of more than $200 million. "They're very healthy, and we don't foresee any problems."
The two females are 11 and 14 feet long. They could grow to as long as 40 feet.
"Jacques Cousteau only saw two of these in his lifetime," Marcus said, referring to the legendary ocean explorer. "Here in Atlanta, we have four."
The whale shark tank was designed to hold as many as six, Marcus said. Because the two males are still juveniles, the sharks are not expected to breed for several years.
The aquarium, which opened Nov. 23, is on pace to draw 3 million visitors in its first year, nearly doubling original estimates.
In addition to the whale sharks, the aquarium's 8 million gallons of tanks feature more than 100,000 fish, beluga whales and other rare animals.