Winnipeg Humane Society calls for permanent closure to zoo’s controversial stingray exhibit

What originally sounded like an amusing story about a new exhibit at Assiniboine Park Zoo temporarily shutting down due to overly-amorous stingrays has taken a darker turn.Shortly after the initial news of the closure, the zoo revealed that the three of the stingrays – 10 per cent of the exhibit’s male population – were actually killed as a result of aggressive mating behaviour.Story continues below

Now the Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) is calling for the zoo to permanently shut down the Stingray Beach exhibit, citing unnecessary stress, confinement and suffering on the part of the stingrays.READ MORE: Lusty stingrays lead to temporary closure of Assiniboine Park Zoo exhibitIn an open letter to the zoo published on the WHS blog Wednesday, the organization’s CEO, Javier Schwersensky, is calling for a complete shutdown of Stingray Beach and for WHS supporters to contact the zoo with their own concerns.“Contrary to what we have heard in the media, there is no evidence that these creatures enjoy large-scale human interaction,” said Schwersensky in the blog post.“Nor do they like being confined to very small pools or that their natural mating behaviours should be altered. Stingrays allowed in these ‘touch tanks’ also have their barbs trimmed, which is not a medically necessary procedure.“To make matters worse for these poor creatures, these stingrays are being constantly moved from location to location, like a travelling circus, adding stress and affecting their welfare in pursuit of profit.”Schwersensky praised the work done on a regular basis by the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, but said, “as a friend”, that this particular exhibit needs to be closed down.A petition calling for the exhibit’s closure is also active, with close to 1,000 signatures so far.The zoo’s most recent update on the stingray situation, posted June 26 on social media, said its animal care team had seen improvement among the cownose rays, but wanted to give them a few more days of recovery time before deciding on a re-opening timeline.In an open letter to the @assiniboinezoo, WHS CEO Javier Schwersensky calls for the permanent closure of the Stingray Beach exhibit.— Winnipeg Humane Society (@WinnipegHumane) July 3, 2019
WATCH: Zoo staff feel the loss of animals, much like pet owners do