Three "Virgin Births" for a Shark in Australia

Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium plays host to the rare event.

Photo: A leopard shark pup, Cleo, one of three born to a 'virgin' mom, takes food in her holding tank. Credit: Facebook/Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium.

A female leopard shark in an aquarium in Australia has done something not unprecedented but always fascinating: She's delivered three babies without the aid of a Mr. Shark.

The scene of the "virgin births" was the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, in Queensland. It's the first time the shark, named Leonie, has reproduced without a father, having been separated in 2013 from her last mate.

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Some animals, such as insects, lizards, other species of fish and snakes, can reproduce without a mate through a process called parthenogenesis, in which embryos develop without fertilization.

All told this year, Leonie has laid 41 eggs, according to the aquarium's video update on the births (below) .

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Leonie's three children are all females (Cleo, CC and Gemini).

"During a virgin birth the mother can only produce females because she can only pass on her genetic information," Laura Coulton, a scientist with the aquarium, told the Daily Mail.

However, she added, the babies are not genetic replicas, as their genes have been "reshuffled" a bit.

WATCH VIDEO: "Update from Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium on the New Shark Pups"

Hat tip: Daily Mail