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Aquarium plays whale shark matchmaker

Two females flown 8,000 miles for double date in Atlanta

Alice the whale shark swims into the Ocean Voyager tank at the Georgia Aquarium for the first time
Alice the whale shark swims into the Ocean Voyager tank at the Georgia Aquarium for the first time.

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Atlanta (Georgia)
Taiwan

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Ralph and Norton, meet Alice and Trixie.

The Georgia Aquarium's two male whale sharks got some female companionship on Saturday, when they were joined by two females transported to Atlanta from Taipei, Taiwan.

Researchers are hoping the sharks will mate.

The females -- 11 feet and 14 feet long -- were flown more than 8,000 miles by UPS, which reconfigured a company B-747 freighter with advanced marine life support systems to carry them. ( Watch what it took to get the sharks together -- 1:55)

The pilot said they treated the massive fish like first-class passengers.

"As we were doing the descent, we asked to start down a little sooner to make a nice shallow descent, to not make things too uncomfortable back there for the whale sharks," UPS pilot Capt. Bob Crum said.

The plane's center of balance was carefully planned, according to a statement from the aquarium, and veterinarians accompanied the sharks.

The delivery company also brought the two males to Atlanta, where researchers can study the whale sharks' behavior, breeding and development.

The whale sharks -- named after the main characters in the 1950s sitcom "The Honeymooners" -- were delivered to the aquarium in special transportation containers.

The Georgia Aquarium, which opened in November, is the world's largest aquarium. It was a $250 million gift to Georgia from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, and his wife, Billi, through the Marcus Foundation.

It is the only aquarium outside of Asia to showcase whale sharks, which are the largest fish on Earth.

The aquarium's 6.2-million gallon "Ocean Voyager" tank can hold up to six whale sharks, so there's room for the whale sharks to start a family.

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