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Queen sturgeon starts taking food month after move
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-28 07:11

The Chinese sturgeon "queen," recently moved to the Beijing Aquarium, has recovered her normal appetite after a dramatic weight loss caused the public to worry about her survival.

The 25-year-old sturgeon, 70 in human age, refused food after being captured last October in the Yangtze River, where she spawned. She slimmed sharply from 300 kilograms to 220 kilograms.

Her condition remained unchanged one month later after she was moved to the true-to-life environment in the Beijing Aquarium in early April from Jinzhou, Central China's Hubei Province, according to the aquarium's statement.

The queen's worsening situation had captured public attention as a Chinese sturgeon "king" introduced to the aquarium died in March, reportedly after also refusing food.

Experts said it is difficult for the wild sturgeon, mostly found in the Yangtze, to get accustomed to an artificial environment.

But in the past two weeks, the rare fish has eaten and recovered her physical strength, the statement said.

According to Yu Ping, aquarium director of public relations, the giant female sturgeon eats 1.5 kilograms of fresh crucian carp, or seven such fish, each day.

Yu said among more than 20 types of fresh sea fodder offered by two feeders, the sturgeon favours only crucian carp and dislikes artificial fodder.

The researchers also discovered that the sturgeon will swim swiftly around the feeders in expectation when she is fed at 10 am and 3 pm every day.

However, it still takes time for the sturgeon to prey for food herself, as she used to in her natural environment.

Of 26 Chinese sturgeons in the Beijing Aquarium, the 3.2-metre-long queen is the only one captured from the wild and also is the largest, compared with 25 others, which are artificially bred.

The Chinese sturgeon, which does most of its maturing in salt water but reproduces only in fresh water, has been nicknamed the "panda in the water."

Experts believe the species to be 140 million years old.

(China Daily 05/28/2005 page1)

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