Rosie the Shark

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Tom Kapitany and Sharon Williamson standing with Rosie the Shark at the Crystal World exhibition centre.

Rosie the Shark is a Great White Shark that was preserved in a tank filled with formaldehyde originally on display at the wildlife park called Wildlife Wonderland in Bass, Victoria, Australia[1] which ceased business in 2012 due to animal welfare concerns and operating without appropriate licences.[2]

Crystal World & Prehistoric Journeys director Tom Kapitany moved the shark to Crystal World in 2019 in response to trespassers of the derelict wildlife park vandalising the sharks vitrine, raising concerns of a potential biohazard.[3]


The great white shark was humanely killed after becoming caught in the Lukin family's tuna fishing nets on the coasts of South Australia in 1998.[3] Seal Rocks Sea Life Centre initially showed interest in purchasing the shark from the Lukin family, but later decided against the purchase with Wildlife Wonderland purchasing the great white.[4]

As the shark was being transported to Wildlife Wonderland in Victoria, frozen in a refrigerated truck[5], it was impounded by the Government of South Australia because a woman had been reported missing, requiring an autopsy of the shark at the South Australian Museum.[6] Following the autopsy, the great white shark was stuffed with dacron and preserved in a formaldehyde solution in a custom built tank.[4]

Founder of Wildlife Wonderland John Matthews recalled the operation of ownership as "It was a huge logistical operation, working with Melbourne Museum, and all up cost us about $500,000," and further stating "We had to build a purpose-built room and the roof had to be removed and the shark craned in and put into a new, sealed tank."[4]

In 2012, Wildlife Wonderland were reported to have been operating their business without appropriate licenses, forcing the wildlife park to cease business and surrender all animals to RSPCA Australia and the Department of Sustainability and Environment Victoria.[7][8]


In November 2018, a video released on YouTube by urban explorer Luke McPherson showed inside the decaying wildlife park and later stumbling upon the shark tank.[9] Months after, the YouTube video gained millions of views, prompting a rise in trespassing into the property to view the shark, with vandals also damaging and graffitiing the tank and its surroundings.[10]


Local police issued public warnings of the dangers of visiting the shark, following the damage done to the shark's vitrine which caused carcinogenic formaldehyde vapours to leak from the tank.[11]


  1. ^ "Inside forgotten wildlife park with decaying great white shark". Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  2. ^ DeBono, Mark (2012-02-16). "Wildlife park closed amid welfare concerns". ABC News. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  3. ^ a b Cootes, Isobel (2019-03-01). "Abandoned shark saved". Port Lincoln Times. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  4. ^ a b c "Shark Truth Stranger Than Fiction". Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  5. ^ "Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser : February 20th 2019, Page 2". Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  6. ^ Kotz, Eric (2017). The Jawsome Coast(s). South Australia: M R Gudzenovs. pp. 58, 59, 60. ISBN 978-0-9925318-2-9.
  7. ^ DeBono, Mark (2012-02-16). "Wildlife park closed amid welfare concerns". ABC News. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  8. ^ unbelievable, About the Author Ripley's Believe It or Not! The official purveyors of all things; bizarre; Odd!, mind-blowing from around the world Explore the (2019-01-30). "Abandoned Shark Found In Defunct Wildlife Park". Ripley's Believe It or Not!. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  9. ^ Lukie Mc (2018-11-03), Abandoned Australian Wildlife park. Decaying, left to rot., retrieved 2019-03-21
  10. ^ Morgans, Julian; Kransky, Don (2019-02-11). "This Abandoned Melbourne Wildlife Park Features a Decaying Shark". Vice. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  11. ^ Morgans, Julian; Butler, Gavin (2019-02-18). "Police Aren't Happy About the Amount of People Visiting the Abandoned Shark". Vice. Retrieved 2019-03-25.