For years, visitors at ZooTampa in Florida were able to get close to and touch the facility’s stingrays, but on Thursday the rays living in the touch tank were found dead.
“In a statement to FOX 13, zoo officials said a dozen resided in a 16,000-gallon saltwater tank, called Stingray Bay, where guests were allowed to touch them,” the outlet reported Friday.
The tank contained seven cownose stingrays, four southern stingrays, and an Atlantic stingray.
“Stingray Bay was home to only the rays, and all resided in the same tank with no other species. It’s unclear whether ZooTampa has additional stingrays living offsite,” the report continued.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, the zoo announced the disturbing news and said an investigation was underway:
The animal care and veterinary teams are examining all of the mechanical equipment involved and testing the water, all of which indicate optimal water quality and conditions. It may take several weeks for all of the test results to come in. Stingray Bay is a closed system that’s home only to the rays. It remains closed at this time.
“Please keep our team in your thoughts – every professional here loves the animals we care for, and any loss is a difficult one. Thank you for your support,” the post read.
It’s with heavy hearts we share that today ZooTampa lost 12 residents of Stingray Bay. The animal care and veterinary…
The zoo will also conduct a toxicology report.
Meanwhile, Stingray Bay will stay closed for at least eight weeks due to the investigation, according to the Fox article.
According to its website, the zoo “emphasizes endangered, threatened and vulnerable species from climates similar to that of the Tampa Bay region, with park areas devoted to Asia, Africa, Australia, and Florida.”
“Our animal habitats balance support for the maximum well-being of the animals with the importance of engaging our guests and inspiring them to protect and preserve wildlife,” the site concluded.