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All 12 Rays In ZooTampa Touch Tank Mysteriously Found Dead

Stringray in a tank
ZooTampa at Lowry Park
Zoo officials say initial water quality tests and equipment checks aren't revealing any issues, but it could take weeks to get some results.

Zoo staff are examining mechanical equipment and testing the tank's water quality. They say it could take weeks to get some results.

Updated at 12:30 p.m.

All 12 rays housed in a touch tank known as Stingray Bay at ZooTampa at Lowry Park were found dead on Thursday. The cause of death is unknown.

Animal care and veterinary teams are investigating the mechanical equipment involved in operating the tank, according to a statement shared by ZooTampa. They are also testing the water temperature, quality, oxygen and Ph levels.

Officials said initial examinations indicate optimal water quality and conditions, but that it may take several weeks for all of the test results to come in.

"The Zoo is looking into every possibility to uncover what caused the deaths, including conducting toxicology reports," according to the statement.

Stingray Bay is a closed system that only houses the rays, which included seven cownose rays, four Southern stingrays and one Atlantic stingray.

The attraction will remain closed for at least eight weeks as the investigation continues.

“Please keep our team in your thoughts, every professional here loves the animals we care for, and any loss is a difficult one,” a spokesperson said on ZooTampa's Facebook page.

Many zoo patrons commented on the post sharing fond memories of interacting with rays in the tank. Others expressed anger and demanded accountability for the rays' deaths.

This is a developing story. Stay with WUSF News for updates.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
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