Last weekend, a trio of bandits stole a 16-inch horn shark named Miss Helen from the San Antonio Aquarium, grabbing it from the petting and feeding exhibit, swaddling it in a blanket, and rolling it out in a stroller. Luckily, their heist was foiled after the cops caught up with them and found Miss Helen in an amateur aquarium in one of the suspect's garages.
Now that man, 38-year-old Anthony Shannon, has opened up about his side of the story, telling local CBS affiliate KENS 5 that as an aquatic "activist' of 30 years, he felt that the shark "needed help."
"It was wrong to just take him like that. But, at that point in time, it was just something that I had to do," Shannon said, showing the station his three saltwater tanks that currently house his own five sharks. "I've been dealing with aquariums since I was eight years old. I knew it would gain a lot of strength being in a proper environment," he added.
According to Shannon, his impromptu stroller heist began weeks ago when a friend shared concerns about the conditions at the aquarium. To investigate, he said he posed as a "salt distributor" and got a full tour of the aquarium where staff "showed me the dead animals." Then last Saturday, Shannon returned with his wife and friend where he claims he saw Miss Helen in distress.
"I pulled the net out. I told the customers to 'move out of the way. I'm going to quarantine the shark,'" Shannon told KENS 5.
For its part, the San Antonio Aquarium released a statement verifying that Shannon did pose as a distributor with a company it works with, and tried to explain why he might have seen deceased marine life during his undercover investigation.
"We take the best possible care of our animals throughout their lives, which unfortunately do end eventually," the aquarium said. "A giant pacific octopus only lives for about three years and are rarely acquired as babies, giving us only a short time with these amazing creatures."
Shannon has since been charged with felony theft of property valued at $2,500 to less than $30,000.
"I'm an activist, not a criminal," Shannon told KENS 5. "I just more or less wanted to help the shark and just basically open an eye to just make things better, but I'm not a criminal."
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