Charlotte the pregnant stingray captivates fans waiting for rare birth

Charlotte the stingray, who became pregnant in a North Carolina aquarium despite having no male to mate with, continues to captivate fans as they await her extremely rare delivery.

Charlotte lives at the Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Her pregnancy journey – and path to internet stardom –  began in September 2023, when Charlotte began to "swell."

"We documented multiple growths internally and initially thought she had a cancer," staff wrote at the time on Facebook.

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The aquarium vet later identified the growths as eggs, not cancer, much to the bewilderment of aquarium workers. The vet noted there have been a few cases of parthenogenesis – or asexual reproduction without fertilization – in stingrays, but this is the first known case of parthenogenesis in a captive California round stingray. 

Since then, Charlotte has been under 24/7 observation as staff and visitors wait for her to deliver her pups. Staff said once she gives birth, stingrays don’t raise or care for their pups. They’re born able to eat, hunt and swim on their own.

Charlotte could give birth any day now, but with no precedent to look back on, there’s no real timeline to follow. Aquarium staff gave an update on Facebook Saturday and said there had been no changes in Charlotte’s eating, resting or swimming.  

"Charlotte interacts daily with the divers," staff said on Facebook. "She allows the divers to handle her for examination and feeding. She also interacts at the tank front with visitors, especially children.

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"We want to thank everyone for their kindness and patience through Charlotte's journey. This is such a unique experience," they continued.