Stingrays at Caribbean Cove opens April 20 at Saint Louis ZooMar 26, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2012
Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639
Joanna Bender, 314/646-4703
STINGRAYS AT CARIBBEAN COVE FEATURING SHARKS OPENS APRIL 20 AT THE SAINT LOUIS ZOO
We’re gettin’ fishy with it! St. Louis will be rolling in the deep when sharks and stingrays swim back for an encore at the Saint Louis Zoo this season. “Stingrays at Caribbean Cove featuring Sharks” opens on April 20 and runs through September 30, 2012.
It’s a season-long pool party like no other in town starring some smooth operators – bonnethead, white-spotted bamboo and nurse sharks, cownose rays, southern stingrays and horseshoe crabs.
Located under a pavilion near Lakeside Cafe, these ocean creatures glide through a 17,000-gallon warm saltwater pool. Guests are encouraged to dip their hands into the water and allow the animals to touch them. Occasionally, there will be an opportunity to feed the stingrays. These are hardy species that interact well with people in a safe and fun manner.
“We’re pleased to bring sharks and stingrays back 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. White-spotted bamboo sharks are known as “cat sharks” because the barbels, or sensory organs, near their mouths resemble cat whiskers. Nurse sharks have stout bodies with smoother skin than most other sharks. They can use their mouths like vacuum cleaners to suck up prey.
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 long whip-like tails that can be used for defense against predators. At Stingrays at Caribbean Cove, their stingers or barbs are painlessly trimmed back just as 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, shark merchandise, 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 to Stingrays at Caribbean Cove is $3 for the general public and $1.50 for Zoo Friends members up to Zoo-Goer level. Members at the Family Level and above may use their Anywhere Plus passes for admission. Children under 2 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.
Stingrays at Caribbean Cove will be open April 20 through September 30, 2012, during Zoo hours. The Zoo’s spring hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through May 24.
Beginning May 25 through September 3, 2012, 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 and Labor Day. The Zoo will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 15, because of A Zoo Ado, the Zoo’s major fundraiser. Starting September 4, the Zoo’s hours return to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
For more information, visit www.stlzoo.org, www.facebook.com/stlzoo, www.twitter.com/stlzoo, www.youtube.com/stlzootube or call (314) 781-0900.
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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