Entire enclosure of animals dies overnight in puzzling incident at Florida zoo

Zoo says it will bring in outside experts to investigate cause of sudden deaths of 12 stingrays

<p>File image: A cownose ray swims at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, on 26 April 2012</p>

File image: A cownose ray swims at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, on 26 April 2012

Leer en Español

Almost a week after 12 stingrays died at ZooTampa at Lowry Park in Florida, zookeepers are still scratching their heads over the cause of their deaths.

Conditions in the tanks were “optimal” at the time, according to zoo staff, and subsequent tests have shown no anomaly or mechanical problem.

The zoo staff had noticed that the stingrays were acting strangely soon after the ZooTampa opened on Thursday 27 May, reported Tampa Bay Times. But it was already too late as veterinary teams rushed to check on them, as all 12 died within an hour.

The 16,000-gallon saltwater touch tank, known as Stingray Bay, housed seven cownose, four southern and one Atlantic stingray, all of whom died suddenly. The three species belong to the same group as sharks with cownose rays being listed as vulnerable on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

A probe into the equipment and water quality led to no conclusive finding on the death of the fish, Dr Cynthia Stringfield, senior vice president of animal health, conservation and education, was quoted as saying.

Further, the internal investigation has revealed no suggestion of foul play, she said. So far law enforcement agencies are not involved in the investigation.

“We are emotionally exhausted,” Dr Stringfield said. “(Thursday) was just a horrible day. It’s like a day out of your nightmares, pretty much... We’re really focused on trying to get to the bottom of what happened.”

In a statement, the zoo said it was investigating “every possibility” to uncover the cause of death including “toxicology reports” but it may take weeks for all the results to come in.

Dr Stringfield said that the zoo would also be bringing in outside experts to look into the matter.

The zoo authorities first shared the news of the mysterious deaths on its Facebook page, with the post receiving thousands of interactions from people sharing their condolences, or memories from the time they had visited the Stingray Bay.

“We’re just floored by the outpouring of sympathy and support from the community. It’s been amazing and it’s been amazing to see how impactful those animals were for so many people,” Dr Stingfield had told ABC News.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in