Calgary Zoo to Close Ray Exhibit After 41 Deaths

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Calgary Zoo to Close Ray Exhibit After 41 Deaths

By Chuck Chiang,

The Calgary Zoo will close its Cownose ray exhibit - which gained notoriety after 41 of the marine animals died last year - in the next few weeks, officials said Friday.

Zoo officials said the key reason for closing the exhibit - never intended to be permanent - was the cost of the improvements needed.

Caribbean Cownose Ray

"Although the new equipment we added last year has improved the life support system, to further improve the system to allow us to increase the ray population or to add other aquatic species would represent a significant financial investment," said Cathy Gaviller, the zoo's director of conservation, education and research.

Gaviller adds that the zoo will look into starting a new exhibit instead.

The exhibit consists of a 37,000-litre tank in the Elephant Crossing building of the zoo. It was relaunched late last year with five new rays after the deaths of the previous batch of animals - the cause of which remains unexplained.

Animal activists had protested the relaunch of the exhibit, calling the restock irresponsible.

Zoo officials had said the ray exhibit is "very popular," adding at the time of the relaunch they are confident safety issues have been addressed.

Experts say Cownose rays are known for doing well while living in captivity outside of their native Atlantic Ocean habitat. Many zoos - and a baseball stadium in Tampa, Florida, home of the Tampa Bay Rays major league team - house the animals.

Calgary Zoo officials will now begin the search for the 12 rays at the exhibit.

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