A group of stingrays has died at the Gladys Porter Zoo due to electrical issues, the zoo announced on social media today.
The stingrays included Atlantic rays, cownose rays, Southern rays and yellow rays that resided in the facility's touch tank in Stingray Landing at the Russell Aquatic Ecology Center in Brownsville, TX.
Gladys Porter Zoo did not announce the total number of stingrays that died. The zoo said an electrical issue failed to trigger their emergency back-up system which left the stingrays without oxygen and filtration, which they suspect caused the stingrays to die. The zoo said they will be conducting necropsies on the stingrays to determine the exact cause of death.
"At this time we are moving forward quickly to determine what happened, so we can ensure this horrific incident is not repeated," zoo veterinarian Dr. Patrick Burchfield said in a statement.
Gladys Porter Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This is the second mass stingray die-off at an AZA accredited zoo in the past year. In June 2021, all 12 stingrays at ZooTampa in Tampa, FL, died due to lack of oxygen.
Full statement from Glady's Porter Zoo:
Zoo staff are devastated to share the news of the tragic passing of their group of stingrays residing at Stingray Landing at the Russell Aquatic Ecology Center. The group consisted of Atlantic rays, cownose rays, Southern rays and yellow rays. The loss was noted by the morning shift of aquarists early in the day on January 14.
Though a thorough investigation is underway, the preliminary assessment is that an electrical issue failed to trigger the emergency back-up system designed to prevent loss of critical life support for these aquatic animals. The life support system provides oxygen, filtration and removal of organic waste. Thankfully, the other tanks in the aquarium were not affected.
At present, the veterinary staff at the Zoo is conducting necropsies on the animals to determine the exact cause of death. The Zoo has also brought in an independent licensed electrical contractor to troubleshoot and determine the cascade of issues that caused the life support failure.
"At this time, we are moving forward quickly to determine what happened, so we can take steps to ensure this horrific incident is not repeated,” said Dr. Patrick Burchfield. “We are also attending to our aquatic staff, who are devastated by the loss of these beautiful creatures. We hope for a rapid resolution of our thorough investigation and a quick recovery from this tragic occurrence.”
The Gladys Porter Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Zoo officials have been in touch with the AZA Accreditation Commission, and as part of its commitment to meeting the highest standards in animal care and welfare, the zoo will remain in touch throughout the completion of its investigation.