54 Stingrays Die: Chicago Zoo Investigating After ‘Drop In Oxygen’ Causes Death Of 54 Stingrays

Headlines reading “54 stingrays die” have been circulating on the internet today. According to CNN, a Chicago zoo is working to figure out what exactly caused the deaths of these stingrays. Staff at the zoo reported a “drop in oxygen levels,” and while the problem was quickly rectified, it was too late for many of these bottom-dwelling rays. The zoo does not yet know what caused these levels to drop, but experts are working diligently to find answers.

A message on the Brookfield Zoo’s Facebook page announced that the Stingray exhibit would be closed for the remainder of the season.

“We are devastated by the tragic loss of these animals. Our staff did everything possible to try and save the animals, but the situation could not be reversed,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for the Chicago Zoological Society.

All 54 stingrays that died were born in captivity.

The exhibit first opened in 2007, and has been extremely popular over the years. Zoo visitors were able to get up close and personal with the stingrays, and were able to touch and feed them. In 2014, over 200,000 people visited the stingray exhibit. It is unknown when the zoo plans on reopening the stingray pool to the public, or how the zoo plans to repopulate the exhibit.

“On July 10, there was a drop in the oxygen level at Brookfield Zoo’s Stingray Bay habitat. Veterinary staff were promptly on the scene to provide medical treatment to the affected stingrays. Additionally, immediate action was taken by animal care staff to rectify the situation and get the levels back to normal. Despite tireless efforts by staff, all the animals, which included four southern stingrays and 50 cownose rays, succumbed.”

Years before the 54 stingrays died, there was another malfunction caused over a dozen deaths.

“We had a malfunction of a different type back in 2008. It was a water temperature increase, and the exhibit temperature increased by about 10 degrees, and we lost about 16 stingrays in that,” said spokeswoman Sondra Katzen.

After that mishap, the zoo installed new technology that monitored the various levels in the pool.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the recent stingray deaths will likely cause an outrage by animal rights activists who don’t feel as though these creatures should be kept in captivity.

Do you think that stingrays should be bred in captivity, and kept in zoo exhibits?

[Photo by Matt Cardy / Getty Images]