Stingrays at Caribbean Cove presented by Mercy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2013
Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639, email@example.com
Joanna Bender, 314/646-4703
STINGRAYS AT CARIBBEAN COVE PRESENTED BY MERCY OPENS APRIL 19
Media photo opportunity, Friday, April 19, 9 to 9:30 a.m.
Donn Sorensen, President of Mercy East Communities, and Dr. Jeffrey Bonner, Dana Brown President and CEO, Saint Louis Zoo, will provide the first public feeding (a mix of seafood) to the stingrays on opening day of Stingrays at Caribbean Cove!
Stingrays at Caribbean Cove presented by Mercy opens to the public at the Saint Louis Zoo at 9 a.m. on April 19 and runs through September 29, 2013. See web page.
Cownose rays and southern stingrays, horseshoe crabs, bonnethead and white-spotted bamboo sharks glide through a 17,000-gallon warm saltwater pool located under a large tropical-themed pavilion. 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.
"Mercy is excited to be the presenting sponsor of this great exhibit because our institution is all about serving families across the region," said Donn Sorensen, President of Mercy East Communities. "Associating with the Saint Louis Zoo allows us to reach out to an even broader community just as Stingrays has engaged families from across the region since its 2009 launch here in St. Louis."
Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown president & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo, added that the Zoo is pleased to bring sharks and stingrays back to our visitors this year with Mercy's generosity. "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. This gives them that opportunity."
The bonnethead shark is the smallest member of the hammerhead family. They have semi-circular heads 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.
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 clipped back just as human fingernails are clipped. Staff at the exhibit will monitor the stingrays throughout the season to ensure that the barbs stay neatly trimmed.
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 $4 per person. Zoo Friends members at the Family Level and above may use their Anywhere Plus passes for admission. Children under 2 are free. Purchase a one-day Safari Pass for $10 and receive free admission to Stingrays at Caribbean Cove and other attractions. 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) 646-4718 in advance for group discounts.
Stingrays at Caribbean Cove will be open April 19 through September 29, 2013, during Zoo hours. The Zoo's spring hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through May 23.
Beginning May 24 through September 2, 2013, 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, July 4 and Labor Day. The Zoo will close at 12 noon on Friday, June 21, because of ZOOFARI, the Zoo's major biennial fundraiser. Starting September 3, the Zoo's hours return to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
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.