A mass die-off of stingrays at a zoo in Florida, US, has prompted an investigation after staff were left confused over the circumstances.
All 12 stingray ‘residents’ in the 16,000-gallon tank at ZooTampa were found dead this week.
Some staff had noticed the rays acting ‘strangely’, but within the hour all of them were dead.
They were housed in a saltwater tank named Stingray Bay, where they resided with no other species. Moreover, visitors were able to reach in and touch them as part of the exhibit.
The worrying discovery prompted the launch of an investigation, which will involve a toxicology report to determine whether they were poisoned.
Moreover, staff will test the temperature, quality, oxygen, and pH levels of the water.
However, in a statement, ZooTampa claimed the conditions were ‘optimal’.
Senior Vice President Of Animal Conservation And Education at ZooTampa is Dr. Cynthia Stringfield.
She told the Tampa Bay Times: “We are emotionally exhausted. It’s like a day out of your nightmare, pretty much…We’re really focused on trying to get to the bottom of what happened.”
Following the deaths, the enclosure will be closed for ‘several’ weeks, whilst the investigation is taking place.
In a Facebook post, ZooTampa said: “Please keep our team in your thoughts – every professional here loves the animals we care for, and any loss is a difficult one. Thank you for your support.”
Many compare keeping animals in captivity inside zoos to isolation conditions following COVID-19 restrictions.
One of them is the vegan Formula 1 champion, Lewis Hamilton.
On Instagram, he said: “If you are home on lockdown, perhaps you can feel a little of what the animals in captivity go through every day, their entires lives stopped from them.: