80-Year-Old Sawfish Goes to Breeding Program

Though Buzz the sawfish is 80 years old, he is not elderly by sawfish standards because they can reportedly live up to 200 years. (Source: San Jose Mercury News) He has been at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California for 19 years, until recently when he was removed from the Shark Experience and shipped to New Orleans for a breeding program. The reason Buzz was sent to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas for breeding is that the number of sawfish in captivity in the U.S. is just five and they are also critically endangered in the wild. Discovery Kingdom lacks the space for its own breeding program. In New Orleans, they have space and females, so the hope is when they are in the same habitats they will begin reproducing.

Buzz was accidentally captured in the Gulf of Mexico by two fisherman in 1968. He is 13 feet long and weighs over 200 pounds, but sawfish can actually grow to 23 feet. Sawfish are named for the long structure which looks like a saw blade, but they use it for sensing prey and whacking them with it rather than sawing. Once they have stunned or injured  smaller fish by hitting them, then can eat them. Though the toothed blade (rostrum) of a sawfish looks scary, the species is not aggressive towards humans.

The generosity of Discovery Kingdom may be returned if the New Orleans breeding program is successful, as both parties have agreed should there be healthy sawfish offspring, Discovery Kingdom will get one of them. Buzz was transported to New Orleans in a tank within a truck, and replaced another male sawfish named Mr. Bill who died during Hurricane Katrina. Buzz was very popular at Discovery Kingdom, both with patrons and the staff. “I’d put a hand out and he’d put his saw in my hand. Sometimes he’d just swim up to us and lie there,” said John Schulz Discovery Kingdom aquarium manager. (Source: SFgate.com)

In Cape Coral, Florida there is currently a debate about sea-wall construction near residential housing because it isn’t good for the very endangered sawfish.

Image Credit: Anodoin

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Bon L.
Bon L8 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B8 years ago

Thanks.... i hope to see Buzz in New Orleans

Hester Goedhart
Eternal G8 years ago

Wow, 200 years!

John C.
Past Member 8 years ago


Ramona Thompson
Ramona Thompson8 years ago

While I would hope the species can be saved because it has almost been decimated by man, I do not promote paid animal entertainment places.

Otherwise, we get into the situation of rounding up, culling, and abducting animals for these paid animal entertainment places like what is happening in Taiji, Japan.

I wish I had a better answer for the perpetuation of Buzz and his species. I do hope some little "Buzzes" will result, I must admit.

I think all the ancesteral Buzzes out there did without mans intervention in past eons and did quite well until man intervened and decimated their numbers.

I cannot help but wonder if the congenial Buzz would rather find his own Buzetta out in the great big ocean on his own?

Carol Cowbrough
Carol C8 years ago

Interesting. Thanks.

leyna stemle
leyna stemle8 years ago


Nancy Anderson
Nancy Anderson8 years ago

I hadn't heard of sawfish before. I hope they can save the species and their habitat.

Tiffany Lambiase
Tiffany Lambiase8 years ago


Nuno Correia
Nuno Correia8 years ago

hope it works