Review and images by Suspsy; edited by bmathison1972
Of all the aquariums in North America, perhaps none are as impressive as the biggest one of all: the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta. It houses a vast number and variety of both freshwater and saltwater denizens, including alligators, otters, puffins, penguins, sea lions, dolphins, beluga whales, and most notable of all, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus). So it was only fitting that when I visited that place back in 2008, my souvenir of choice was this plush whale shark made by a company called The Petting Zoo.
With a length of 56 cm (22″) and a pectoral finspan of 33 cm (13″), this is one of the larger plush sharks I have acquired over the years, appropriately. Like most whale shark toys, its main colours are medium grey and white with dozens of spots and stripes, grey and black plastic eyes, and tiny stitched black gills. And like many plush toys, this one contains a mass of pellets that can be felt on its underside.
In a nice touch, the pupils of this whale shark’s eyes are almond-shaped just like on the real animal. It also features a rather prominent “lip” at the front of its head to denote the wide mouth. The head has the correct square-shaped appearance, the pectoral fins are shortened, but otherwise correctly shaped, and the dorsal fin is positioned far back as it should be. On the other hand, the gills only number four on each side, the caudal fin is much too small, and for some reason there’s only one pelvic fin.
But like most of the plush sharks I’ve amassed over the years, this one has a definite charm to it, and is absolutely unmistakable as a whale shark. Most importantly, it’s a reminder of a really fun occasion in my life. I hope someday I get the opportunity to return to the Georgia Aquarium with my two boys, so that they can also glimpse a whale shark in the flesh.