The two females were flown more than 8,000 miles on a specially configured UPS B-747 freighter from Taipei, Taiwan, through Anchorage to Atlanta. The two whale sharks are 11 and 14 feet in length.
Whale sharks are the largest fish on earth, and UPS is the only airline to ever fly the species across the Pacific. The Aquarium will allow researchers around the world to join them as they embark on a general study of whale sharks including behaviour, breeding and development.
To facilitate these intricate moves safely, UPS had to carefully plan the plane's center-of-balance. The 747's interior was reconfigured to secure custom containers with highly advanced marine life support systems and accommodations were added for marine veterinarians travelling aboard.
Having the past experience of successfully transporting Ralph and Norton, UPS was able to cut the planning of Alice and Trixie's relocation down to a mere six weeks compared to 2005's year-long preparation.
After landing at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport late Saturday evening, the whale sharks remained in their transport containers and were hoisted off the plane and secured to specially designed trailers for a police escort to the Aquarium.
In the future, a replica of the special transportation containers will be displayed in the Ocean Voyager gallery showcasing the complexity of the whale sharks' move completed by UPS and the Aquarium. The Ocean Voyager gallery was built by Home Depot.
UPS also worked with the non-profit organization to transport four Beluga whales and more than 42 containers of smaller aquatic animals, which comprise the majority of the Aquarium's collection, prior to the Aquarium's grand opening last November.
UPS is the world's largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain services, offering an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. UPS's stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (UPS) and the company can be found on the Web at UPS.com.
About the Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium opened in Atlanta, Georgia on November 23, 2005, as the world's largest aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium is a $250 million gift to the people of Georgia from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation. The Aquarium, which has welcomed more than 2 million visitors in six months, is overseen by a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibitions and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and entertaining visitors' experiences, and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. The Georgia Aquarium is committed to continually working to provide the best guest experience. It is the goal of the Georgia Aquarium to educate audiences of all ages, while promoting a fun and entertaining learning experience that inspires guests to appreciate the world's aquatic biodiversity and to take conservation action.
For additional information on the Georgia Aquarium, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.