LAS VEGAS - A great hammerhead shark introduced amid fanfare into a Las Vegas Strip aquarium a year ago has died of an intestinal infection, hotel officials said Friday.
The 6-year-old female shark died late Thursday despite medication and veterinary treatment prompted by a display of unusual behavior, said Jack Jewell, curator of the Shark Reef attraction at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.
The 7-foot, 100-pound great hammerhead had been described as the only one of its species on display at a closed-system aquarium. It had been captured off the coast of Florida and flown to Las Vegas in August 2001.
Jewell said in a statement that staff veterinarians believed the infection was caused by a bite from another animal during prolapse, a natural process during which a shark extrudes its intestines for cleansing. He said tests were continuing on the shark's remains.
In the ocean, great hammerheads can live 20 to 30 years, sometimes reaching 20 feet long and 1,000 pounds.
Shark Reef, with 2,000 animals and a 1.3 million gallon saltwater tank, is an American Zoo and Aquarium Association member. Association officials in Silver Spring, Md., did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment after hours Friday.
The aquarium draws 1 million paying visitors a year. It remained open Friday. Officials said there were no immediate plans to acquire another hammerhead.