Phoenix Zoo, Phoeniz, AZ
Happy New Year! To kick off 2013 with a bang, I bring you a great article with amazing images from the Phoenix Zoo on their Stingyray Bay interactive exhibit! Thank you very much to Linda Hardwick, who gathered the info from the stingyray team at Phoenix Zoo. Also a huge thank you to the staff for taking the time to answer the question. I personally have had the pleasure to experience this particular exhibit and it’s as stellar as it looks! I could of spent my entire day at Stingray Bay.
Q: What inspired the Phoenix Zoo to create the Stingray Bay exhibit?
A: As a means to add an interactive experience for guests.
Q: How long did the exhibit take to complete from design plans to actual construction?
A: 9 months
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of the exhibit to install or create?
A: Installation was not challenging but the design phase took time since this was the first such exhibit at the Zoo.
Q: How many Cownose stingrays are in the exhibit? Why was the Cownose stingray chosen for the exhibit?
A: We have around 32 animals at this time. We chose Cownose rays because they are active, swimming in a school rather than sitting on the bottom. They also do well in this type of exhibit. They feed readily from the hand and will come up and interact with visitors.
Q: Where did the Cownose stingrays from the exhibit originally reside? How hard was it to transport them to the exhibit?
A: Many of the rays had been living at other zoos. They were brought to us in a specially designed semi-trailer by a company that has a lot of experience safely transporting marine fish.
Q: What do they eat? How much food does the zoo go through in a week for them?
A: An adult ray can eat between ½ – ¾ pound of food (fish, shrimp, squid and mollusks) daily, depending on their activity and time of year. With our group we go through over 100 lb of food per week.
Q: What do people most love about this exhibit?
A: Being able to interact with the animals. The rays will approach people and allow touching, even when they are not being fed. They are interesting animals with a lot of appeal.
Q: What is the most important thing you would like visitors to take away after experiencing Stingray Bay?
A: An understanding that all animals are unique and play an important part of our ecosystem. They deserve our respect and protection.
Q: What is one unusual fact your zoo has learned about Cownose stingrays while having them?
A: The range of personalities each fish can exhibit. There is even one animal that seems to deliberately splash on unsuspecting visitors. I’ve seen him slow down, look at someone at the edge of the pool, make a big splash and then zip off. I can’t help but think he has a sense of humor.
Q: What is your personal favorite aspect of the exhibit?
A: Seeing visitors watch and interact with these fascinating fish. There are few opportunities at a zoo where people can actually touch and connect with an animal. This makes a huge impression on everyone who visits the exhibit.