Anthony Shannon was one of three people who stole a baby shark from the San Antonio Zoo over the weekend. He and two other unidentified suspects were caught on surveillance taking the shark (named Miss Helen) and placing it in a baby stroller, before walking it right out of the zoo.
38-year-old Shannon was found two days later by police, who located Miss Helen within his house. He immediately confessed to the crime and was charged with felony theft.
Per The Daily Mail, Shannon has claimed that “he’s an activist, not a criminal.” Here’s what you have to know.
1. He Claimed That it Was Something He “Had to Do”
To KHOU11, Shannon said, “It was wrong to just take him like that. But, at that point in time, it was just something that I had to do.” He added that a friend had told him a few weeks prior, the Aquarium had seemed to be in “poor condition” and that animals were “dying frequently.”
Shannon then explained how he pretended to be a salt distributor to the aquarium. “So I said, as a salt distributor, I was going to send in a guy, ‘Anthony Shannon,’ that he’s my buddy,” Shannon said, “he’s an aquarist in San Antonio. So when I came, I posed as myself, I got a full tour of the store. She showed me everything, and the room, and ‘check out the systems.’”
2. He Claims to Have 30 Years of Experience With Marine Life
Shannon claims to have over 30 years of experience with marine life, though this has not been confirmed in any professional capacity. To KHOU11, Shannon said, “I’ve been dealing with aquariums since I was 8 years old. I knew it would gain a lot of strength being in a proper environment.”
To CBS News, Shannon said, “If there’s any other animals that need help, I still will do it…[but I won’t] move and capture sharks like that, because I’m sure with the media going on, they’ll take better care of the animals from now on.”
3. He Already Owns Five Sharks Personally
When police entered Shannon’s house, they reportedly found that Shannon is in possession of three salt water tanks filled with several dozen fish and five sharks. The size of the tanks or the breed of the sharks has not been disclosed.
Via The Daily Mail, Leon Valley Police Chief Joseph Salvaggio told reporters late Monday, “He had a lot of different marine animals in the home, very much knew what he was doing.”
Shannon has repeatedly claimed that he was trying to “quarantine” the shark, not to harm it.
4. The Aquarium Has Released a Statement Denying Shannon’s Claim of Miss Helen’s Distress
The Aquarium has confirmed that this occurred in its official statement:
“About a month ago Anthony Shannon posed as an employee of Instant Ocean, the company from where we get our marine salts. He stated that we may have been sold a bad batch of salts and he needed to do water quality testing to make sure we were not putting our animals in danger. We have a good working relationship with Instant Ocean and had no reason to doubt his story until he was recognized on camera after the theft by the employee that led him to various back areas to do the testing.
Any deceased animals he may have seen while in our back areas were an unfortunate part of being in this business. We take the best possible care of our animals throughout their lives, which unfortunately do end eventually. A giant pacific octopus only lives for about 3 years and are rarely acquired as babies, giving us only a short time with these amazing creatures.
Part of taking great care of animals is giving them the best possible diet, full of vitamins and the nutrients they need to survive. Many of our aquatic animals eat things such as krill and capelin, which can be somewhat oily. This oil can cause a slight sheen on the water after a feeding. Our filtration systems clean this out pretty quickly but it takes a few minutes to completely clear the water.
We do daily tests of our water throughout the aquarium and show that everything is within normal parameters on the day Helen went missing.
We appreciate all of the love and support everyone has shown for Helen and invite everyone to come see her when she’s back on exhibit.”
5. He Has Been Charged With “Felony Theft of Property”
Shannon has since been charged with felony theft of property, a charge which could level him with anywhere between a $2,500 and $30,000 fine.
Of the charges, Shannon has said, “I’m an activist, not a criminal, and basically I don’t want to produce any crimes that will make me lose my family or big charges and to open an eye and make things better.”