The man accused of stealing Miss Helen the horn shark from the San Antonio Aquarium over the weekend told an area news station that he took the shark for her own good.
“I’m an activist, not a criminal,” Anthony Shannon, 38, told KENS. “Basically, I don’t want to produce any crimes that will make me lose my family or big charges, and (I want) to open an eye and make things better.”
Leon Valley Police Chief Joseph Salvaggio told MySanAntonio.com that Shannon nabbed Miss Helen Saturday from the aquarium’s tide pool exhibit. Aquarium officials said the 16-inch shark was stolen by a group of three people who watched the exhibit for more than an hour, waiting for an opportunity to snag the shark.
Miss Helen was wrapped in a wet towel and put into a bucket that had earlier been half-filled with a cleaning solution containing bleach. The cleaning solution was dumped into the aquarium’s cold-water exhibit filtration system, but aquarium employees said they were able to counteract the bleach before it could seriously harm any animals.
While inside the bucket, Miss Helen was placed into a stroller. Officials said that despite worries over her health, considering her possible contact with the bleach solution, she was in good health when she was returned Monday night, KSAT reported.
“It was wrong to just take him like that, but at that point in time, it was just something that I had to do,” Shannon told KENS.
He said he hatched a plan to investigate after a friend told him the aquarium “was in poor condition and marine life were dying frequently,” KENS reported.
Shannon told the news station he works as a salt distributor. Using his job as cover, he was able to gain access behind the scenes of the aquarium, he said.
Aquarium officials earlier confirmed Shannon last month posed as an employee of salt supplier Instant Ocean and told employees he needed to test water in the exhibits because the company had sent bad batches of salt.
“I’ve been dealing with aquariums since I was 8 years old,” Shannon told KENS, adding that he has three saltwater tanks filled with dozens of fish and five sharks at his home. “I knew (the shark) would gain a lot of strength being in proper environment.”
He said he acted Saturday after noticing Miss Helen appeared to be in distress.
“I pulled the net out, I told the customers to get out of the way (and said), ‘I’m going to quarantine the shark,’” Shannon told KENS.
Miss Helen was recovered Monday at Shannon’s home, officials said. Police told MySanAntonio.com that Shannon confessed to stealing the shark and told officers she was meant to be a replacement for a horn shark he had that died.
He has been charged with felony theft.
Neither the man nor the woman who are believed to have worked with Shannon have been identified, although Salvaggio told MySanAntonio.com he expected both would face charges.