Stingrays at Caribbean Cove featuring Sharks at Saint Louis Zoo

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STINGRAYS AT CARIBBEAN COVE FEATURING SHARKS AT SAINT LOUIS ZOO




cownose_stingray

Stingray feeding at Saint Louis Zoo. Photo courtesy Living Exhibits.

Stingrays at Caribbean Cove featuring Sharks at Saint Louis Zoo

Apr 4, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

April 1, 2010 Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900

Janet Powell, ext. 4633

Christy Childs, ext. 4639

STINGRAYS AT CARIBBEAN COVE FEATURING SHARKS OPENS APRIL 23 AT THE SAINT LOUIS ZOO

There’s something fishy going on at the Saint Louis Zoo this summer -- sharks are invading the pool at Stingrays at Caribbean Cove! No worries, though, these are small, mild-mannered bonnethead and brownbanded bamboo sharks swimming about with cownose rays, southern stingrays and horseshoe crabs. Stingrays at Caribbean Cove featuring Sharks will be open April 23 through September 25, 2011.

Located under a pavilion near Lakeside Cafe, the ocean creatures glide through a 17,000-gallon warm saltwater pool. Visitors are encouraged to dip their hands into the water and allow the stingrays to touch them. Occasionally, they will have an opportunity to feed them. These are hardy species that interact well with people in a safe and fun manner.

“We’re excited to introduce sharks to our visitors this year,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown president & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. “Connecting people with wildlife is an important part of our mission. Not everyone in our part of the world has had the chance to get in touch with ocean life in such a close-up intimate way.”

Bonnethead sharks are the smallest members of the hammerhead family. They have a semi-circular head resembling a shovel or bonnet. Brownbanded bamboo sharks are known as “cat sharks” because the barbels, or sensory organs, near their mouth resemble cat whiskers.

The sharks at Stingrays at Caribbean Cove are small, shy and docile fish and pose no danger to humans. They range from two-and-a-half to four feet in length and are bottom-dwelling species that prey on small fish, crabs and invertebrates. Visitors will not be feeding the sharks, but occasionally they may have an opportunity to be touched briefly by a shark as it swims by.

Cownose rays and southern stingrays are related to sharks. They have a flat body, long pointed fins and a long whip-like tail that can be used for defense against predators. At Stingrays at Caribbean Cove, their stingers or barbs are painlessly trimmed back just like fingernails are clipped. Staff at the exhibit will monitor the stingrays throughout the season to ensure no stingers exist.

Along for the swim are horseshoe crabs, which are more closely related to spiders and scorpions than to true crabs. The horseshoe crab is a living fossil. It has been on the earth for 220 million years, longer than dinosaurs, and it survives today almost identical to its ancient ancestors.

The 20-inch deep pool includes a waterfall and a state-of-the-art life support system. The pool also has solitary space and places for the animals to rest if they choose.

Zoo interpreters and educators will be on hand to help visitors and to share information about the animals, sustainable seafood and ocean conservation.

Tropical Traders Gift Shop will offer a variety of ocean-related souvenirs including plush stingrays and other sea life items, T-shirts, tropical attire, nautical gifts and more. Ray’s Grill will serve up fish and chips, fajitas, island burgers and more. Margaritas, piña coladas, daiquiris and beer (with or without alcohol) will also be available.

The Zoo’s Education Department is planning several programs for children and adults throughout the summer. Some programs include A Day With the Rays, Wake Up With the Rays, Family and Scout Overnights, Camp KangaZoo and more. To register for programs, visit www.stlzoo.org/education or call (314) 646-4544.

Admission

Admission to Stingrays at Caribbean Cove is $3 for the general public and $1.50 for Zoo Friends members. Children under two are free. Admission is free the first hour the Zoo is open. Stingray feedings are $1.00 per cup. Groups of 15 or more may call (314) 781-0900, ext. 4709 in advance for group discounts.

Hours

Stingrays at Caribbean Cove will be open April 23 through September 25, 2011, during Zoo hours. The Zoo’s spring hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 26.

Beginning May 27 through September 5, 2011, the Zoo is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday for North Star Summer Zoo Weekends.

The Zoo will be open until 7 p.m. on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. The Zoo will close at 12 noon on Friday, June 17, because of ZOOFARI 2011, the Zoo’s major fundraiser. Starting September 6, the Zoo’s hours return to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

More Information

For more information, visit www.stlzoo.org or call (314) 781-0900. See the Zoo on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stlzoo), Twitter (www.twitter.com/stlzoo) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/stlzootube).

Sponsors

Stingrays at Caribbean Cove featuring Sharks is sponsored by Novus International, Inc.

About Living Exhibits

Animal and veterinary care for the stingrays is supervised by a full-time exhibit supervisor and an assistant exhibit supervisor from Living Exhibits, a Las Vegas-based corporation that produces and manages interactive exhibits for zoos, aquariums and museums.

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