The man charged with stealing a shark from the San Antonio Aquarium said yes, he did it, but insisted it was for a good reason.
“I took a shark, which is wrong, but it needed help in that point in time, and I had stuff with me due to previous experiences,” Anthony Shannon, 38, told KENS5 in an interview.
He described himself as an “activist, not a criminal.”
Shannon led the outlet on a tour of his home, showing them his personal aquariums, as well as the tank which he says held the horn shark known as Miss Helen.
He said he was visiting the San Antonio Aquarium on Saturday, when he saw another customer squeeze and apparently hurt the shark. It was in a touch tank.
“Then I pulled the net out,” he said. “I told the customers to move out of the way. ‘I’m going to quarantine the shark.'” Then he put it in a piece of tupperware and rolled it out of the aquarium at the bottom of a stroller, he said.
Shannon admitted to visiting the aquarium the month previous to pose as a salt distributor after a friend told him about animals in poor condition. Staffers didn’t ask him for credentials or licenses, he said. He claimed to see dead animals.
In a statement obtained by KENS5, the San Antonio Aquarium’s General Manager Jen Spellman said that, “Any deceased animals he may have seen while in our back areas were an unfortunate part of being in this business. We take the best possible care of our animals throughout their lives, which unfortunately do end eventually. A giant pacific octopus only lives for about 3 years and are rarely acquired as babies, giving us only a short time with these amazing creatures.”
They said they had no reason to doubt he was a salt distributor.
Leon Valley police released surveillance footage of Shannon and two other people suspected in the theft. The defendant said those people–his wife and friend–were unaware of his plan. Shannon is charged with felony theft of property valued at $2,500 to less than $30,000, though he insists the horn shark’s value is $800 at max.
Miss Helen is in good condition, the aquarium said.
Animal activists are using the theft to call for an end to “irresponsible touch tanks” at the San Antonio Aquarium. A petition at the social networking site Care2 has 16,880 supporters as of Wednesday afternoon.
[Screengrab via KENS5]