Press Release

California Academy of Sciences
Stephanie Stone (415) 379-5121

Tennessee Aquarium
Katrina Craven (423) 785-3011

Images Available

Endangered Beluga Sturgeon is Reunited with Brother
Delta Air Lines Transported 7-Foot Fish on 767 Passenger Plane

Sturgeon moved from San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences
to Chattanooga's Tennessee Aquarium on May 24, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (May 24, 2006) – Because they carry precious cargo—widely famed beluga caviar—beluga sturgeons have been fished to near extinction in much of their range. Only two members of this endangered species are currently on display in the United States. These two ambassadors are brothers named Boris and Horace. They have been U.S. residents since 1976, when Moscow State University sent two hatchlings to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in exchange for a gonad tissue sample from one of the Academy’s coelacanth specimens. The brothers were tankmates at the Academy’s Steinhart Aquarium until 1991, when Horace was sent to Chattanooga to help open the Tennessee Aquarium. Today, Boris boarded a cross-country Delta Air Lines flight to be reunited with his brother for the first time in fifteen years.

In preparation for the journey, biologists at the California Academy of Sciences carried Boris by stretcher into a special transport tank that measured eight feet in diameter and held 1,000 gallons of water. They pumped the tank full of oxygen, loaded it onto a flatbed truck, and drove it to the San Francisco International Airport , where they were met by members of the Delta Air Logistics team. There, Boris was placed in a special pallet and loaded into the cargo hold of a 767 passenger plane bound for Atlanta . The pallet weighed over 5,000 pounds and would have been a very pricey package, but Delta Air Lines generously offered to donate their transport services in order to make the move possible.

Boris was the first passenger off the plane when flight 632 landed in Atlanta. There, he was met by biologists from the Tennessee Aquarium, where his vital signs and the water quality were both checked. Fresh oxygen was added to his tank before he boarded another truck for the last leg of his journey. When he arrived at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, he was transferred to a larger tank, where he will stay under observation for the next 45 days to make sure he is healthy. Once he passes his check-up, Boris will be introduced to the Tennessee Aquarium’s 13,000-gallon Volga River exhibit tank, where he will have plenty of room to get reacquainted with his brother.

When the California Academy of Sciences first acquired Boris and Horace, the two hatchlings were just four inches long. Today, Boris is about seven feet long and is rapidly growing. The largest of the world’s freshwater fish, beluga sturgeons can reach lengths of 26 feet and weigh nearly 1.5 tons. Boris’s large new tank in Tennessee will provide him with the space he needs to attain his full size.

“I was here 30 years ago when Boris and Horace first arrived in San Francisco,” says Tom Tucker, Curator of Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. “I’m sad to see an old friend go, but I know Boris will have a great home in Tennessee .”

The tank that Boris once occupied in San Francisco is now empty, but it won’t stay empty for long. The California Academy of Sciences is currently building a new museum and aquarium in Golden Gate Park that is scheduled to open in 2008. The new Steinhart Aquarium will host over 10,000 animals, and the Academy is already beginning to acquire new animals for the planned exhibits. One of these exhibits, a four-story living rainforest dome, will include a 100,000-gallon Flooded Forest tank. Now that Boris has moved out, his tank will be used to house Amazonian river fish that will eventually inhabit this new rainforest exhibit. The concrete foundation for the Flooded Forest tank has just been poured and the wooden framing for its walls is now in place. Although San Francisco has said goodbye to one beloved animal, it will soon welcome a number of new aquatic ambassadors that will continue Boris’s legacy of inspiring visitors to protect the natural world.


The California Academy of Sciences, including Steinhart Aquarium and the Natural History Museum, is open to the public at 875 Howard Street. Admission to the Academy at 875 Howard Street is: $7 for adults, $4.50 for youth ages 12 to 17, Seniors ages 65+ and students with valid ID, $2 for children ages four to 11 and children ages three and younger will be admitted free of charge. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. (415) 379-8000.

The California Academy of Sciences, the fourth largest natural history museum in the United States, is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the Natural History Museum. The Academy is beginning an extensive rebuilding project in Golden Gate Park. Pritzker prize-winning architect Renzo Piano is designing the new Academy, which is expected to open in 2008.

The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $17.95 per adult and $9.50 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $7.95 per adult and $5.50 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $22.95 for adults and $13.50 for children. Advance tickets may be purchased online at or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga , is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. Call 267-FISH to join.

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The California Academy of Sciences is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the Kimball Natural History Museum. The Academy is in the midst of an extensive rebuilding project in Golden Gate Park. Pritzker prize-winning architect Renzo Piano is designing the new Academy, which is scheduled to open on September 27, 2008. (415) 379-8000.

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