WINNIPEG — Backlash is growing against an exhibit at Assiniboine Park Zoo that temporarily closed last month after three stingrays died and several others were injured.
Stingray Beach opened in May and allows visitors to touch and interact with cownose stingrays in an aquatic pool.
The zoo temporarily closed the exhibit on June 26, saying an increase in aggressive mating behaviour sparked the deaths and injuries in the species.
In a blog spot on Wednesday, Humane Society CEO Javier Schwersensky says his organization has great respect for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy but says sometimes that means asking tough questions or telling unpleasant truths
“As a friend, the WHS is asking the Assiniboine Park Zoo to permanently shut-down this travelling show, because contrary to what we have heard in the media, there is no evidence that these creatures enjoy large-scale human interaction,” the WHS says.
“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.”
The exhibit was also the subject of a protest by animal rights activists on June 30, who held signs outside the zoo calling for its closure.
Schwersensky is encouraging the public to contact the zoo, in particular, CEO Margaret Redmond, and encourage the permanent closure of the stingray exhibit.
A petition on Change.org in favour of the exhibit’s closure was approaching 1,000 signatures by Wednesday afternoon.
A response from the Assiniboine Park Conservancy wasn’t immediately available.