The Brookfield Zoo’s 54 sting rays that perished over the weekend died due to a lack of oxygen, zoo officials said July 10. The Chicago Zoological Society said in statement that four southern sting rays and 50 cow-nose sting rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) died in a touch tank that had system malfunction that deprived the animals of oxygen.
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“It’s just an incredibly unfortunate accident,” Bill Zeigler, Brookfield’s senior vice president of animal programs, told the Chicago Sun Times. “The staff worked extremely hard, even some of our mammal keepers were in the water. Everyone is very bummed out about the whole thing.”
The exhibit seasonal exhibit is popular with attendees but will be closed for the remainder of the summer. The rays were between 1 and 10 pounds and were popular with children as they were allowed, for a fee, to feed the animals by hand.