TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – ZooTampa officials are keeping the stingray bay habitat closed until further notice. Back on May 27, 12 stingrays died overnight at the zoo, and after completing an investigation, officials now know the cause of death.
At ZooTampa officials say the investigation shows a supersaturation event caused the stingrays to die, possibly due to a habitat malfunction., something visitors say is sad to hear.READ MORE: Officials Investigating Two Possible Monkeypox Cases In Florida
Danielle Peltz, a zoo visitor says “My three year old son is a big fan of the stingrays so it’s definitely a disappointment.”
Lloyd Wood, another zoo visitor says “It’s unfortunate, but I’m glad they are being proactive and trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Visitors at ZooTampa say right now a trip to the zoo doesn’t feel the same.
“They need to always ensure that there’s a safe environment for all of the animals,” said Peltz.
On May 27, 12 sting rays died in the touch pool habitat, and after plenty of research was done following the incident, zoo officials say a supersaturation event caused the rays to experience gas embolisms, which is a fatal condition that is caused by bubbles in the blood stream.
A statement from the zoo says “The event was not immediately known because the oxygen levels had resolved by the time the water was tested in the morning, following a standard water change.”READ MORE: Pinellas County Releases New Evacuation Zones
“It shouldn’t have happened,” said Peltz.
Zoo officials said it could have been caused by a system malfunction or a crack in portions of the pipe line that is not easy to get to. They also say the life support system was checked every day and maintained by trained staff on a schedule that was recommended by the manufacturer.
But an accident like this one isn’t something visitors say is acceptable.
“They are out of their natural environment and I do know some of them are here for rehabilitation, so to ensure this is why they are here, and provide a safe environment for them is the utmost importance,” said Peltz.
“More safety checks, making sure all the systems are working correctly so it doesn’t happen in the future,” said Wood.
Officials say they are now building a brand new habitat with a new water management system to make sure stingrays can remain a part of ZooTampa.
“I want to make sure my kids and their kids and their grandkids and my great, great grandkids can see elephants and animals and not just read about them in books,” said Wood.MORE NEWS: Tampa Bay's Housing Market Sees Intense Bidding Wars
The zoo said in a statement the new habitat will have safeguards in place and updated procedures to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.