So you know that dead shark that’s floating in a tank of formaldehyde at an abandoned wildlife park outside of Melbourne? Yeah, turns out it’s not going to be there for much longer. The owners of the place are sick of people showing up on their property, breaking in to the enclosure, and causing damage to the shark tank—which, it bears repeating, is full to the brim with carcinogenic formaldehyde. So they’ve donated the specimen to a nearby museum… known as Crystal World.
Crystal World mainly specialises in crystals, fossils, gems, meteorites, minerals, and those big geode things that look way more expensive than they really are. But when staff member Sharon saw a dead four-metre-long great white pop up on her Facebook feed, she knew she had to have it.
“I saw it in a news article and I tagged Tom Kapitany, the owner of Crystal World,” Sharon explained to VICE over the phone. “And he said ‘Let’s do it, let’s save it.’ So we did.”
Sharon got in touch with the owners of the defunct wildlife park and told them she wanted the shark—whose name, it turns out, is Rosie—and they were more than happy to give it to her. “They basically donated the shark to Crystal World so that it can continue its preservation in a safe environment and be used for educational purposes,” she said.
Ever since Rosie the shark became an internet sensation recently, an increasing number of inquisitive urban explorers have flocked to the wildlife park to see the “discount Damien Hirst” with their own eyes—prompting local police to issue a public warning to anyone planning on illegally “visiting” the shark. That surge in popularity has caused headaches for the owners, who “don’t want people on their property at risk” around the chemical bath, as well as their neighbours who are “getting worried because of fire risk as well,” Sharon explains.
“It’s horrible: people have been coming up to the property in car loads, they’ve been abusing the neighbours, and from what I’ve been told there’s even been people turning up with kids and telling their kids to try and smash the tank, which is just stupid and dangerous. Not that the tank will smash, because it’s four layers—but we’re dealing with formaldehyde. It’s a serious chemical.”
The owners have since organised for security to be stationed at the property, watching over Rosie while the logistics of her relocation are properly worked out. Sharon speculates that it’s “going to be at least another six months, because there’s a lot of work to be done and preparation to make her [Rosie] look happy again.”
Once she’s been transported to her new home—about half an hour away—the shark will be “cleaned up, put back together, the tank will be cleaned and fixed and she’ll be used as an exhibit at Crystal World,” Sharon says. “She’ll be used for continual educational purposes, which is what she was there for originally.”
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