Review and images by Suspsy; edited by bmathison1972
Thanks to its elaborately patterned hide and ability to adapt well to captivity, the leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) is among the most familiar of sharks. Over the years, I’ve been to saltwater aquariums throughout the continent of North America, and I cannot think of a single one that did not feature leopard sharks.
This plush toy was acquired at Sea World Orlando many years ago. At the time, I snipped off the tag on its tail that had the manufacturer’s information printed on it, which I now regret, as I have had to some online searching to determine who made this toy. I’m fairly certain that the manufacturer is a company called Wildlife Artists, Inc., but something I noticed in comparing my plush with the images online is that the former is missing its gill slits. It’s possible that this was due to a factory error, but it is also possible that SeaWorld was selling knockoff plushes, which is fairly common at museum, aquarium, and zoo gift shops.
Anyway, this leopard shark measures a good 51 cm long from nose to caudal fin tip. Main colours are creamy white on the underbelly and beige on the upper body with markings of light and dark brown. The plastic eyes are light orange and black, the mouth is a very dull pink, and the triangular felt skin flaps on its nose are white.
Most of this plush’s innards consist of stuffing, but a large mass of pellets can be felt around the mid-region. It has held up nicely over the years, but then I never subjected it to rough play (or really, any play) in all that time. Now that it’s in my little boy’s possession, it’s already looking more frayed. The fabric is soft, but it seems to be of lower quality than the material used on the Wild Republic plushes I have reviewed here previously.
In addition to the missing gill slits, this shark also has a snout that’s too broad and a second dorsal fin that’s too small. Moreover, its markings are in a decidedly haphazard pattern whereas those on the real deal have a more organized appearance to them. Nevertheless, anyone who knows anything about sharks would immediately recognize this plush. Leopard sharks are gregarious creatures that mostly inhabit coastal regions, where they prey on shrimp, crabs, and bony fish. They are in turn prey for larger sharks such as great whites and sevengills.
Overall, the quality of this leopard shark was plush is not as high as a Wild Republic product, but it is still pretty nice.