WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Stingray Cove, a new interactive attraction at the Sedgwick County Zoo, opens to the public on Friday. It will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from April through October.
In the exhibit are two different types of both stingrays and bamboo sharks. The majority of the stingrays are cownose rays, with only three southern stingrays. The bamboo shark species are the brown-banded bamboo shark and the white-spotted bamboo shark.
The cost of the experience is $4 for members, $5 for nonmembers and free for children two and under.
Upon entering Stingray Cove, guests will be asked to rinse their hands and arms up to their elbows. Guests can then use a flat palm to gently touch the rays and sharks on their backs.
Exhibit Supervisor Sean Mayall says, “All it takes is you just to place your hand in the water. With a simple hand in the water, our animals are going to come and investigate what’s going on, and when they see this, they’re going to swim by, and you just reach right down, and you get to have an interaction with them by just touching them right on their backs. It’s their favorite thing to do. They love the interactions with humans, and any time they see this, and they know to just come on by and have a nice little interaction with you.”
According to Mayall, the stingrays’ barbs are removed. “At the zoo here, we are going to trim those barbs back, so they are nothing to worry about. It’s just like clipping our fingernails,” said Mayall.
For an extra $2, you can feed the stingrays.
“We feed them a mixture of different types of fish, so you may get anything from squid to shrimp to different types of baitfish,” said Mayall. “They get about seven different items within their diet on a daily basis.”
The habitat at the zoo mimics the species’ natural habitat.
“We keep this water in here heated in the mid-70s all the time throughout the year. It’s what temperature they prefer, so we try to maintain that at all times,” Mayall said. “We keep the salt percentage in this water identical to what you’d find out in the ocean.”
Behind the scenes of the exhibit is a complex system to keep the water habitable for the animals.
“We have a 17,000-gallon habitat, and every half an hour, this water, every gallon of this, will run through a filtration system to be perfectly clean, pull out anything, any of the waste that might be in it, and make sure that this water is healthy and natural for these animals,” said Mayall.
For more information on Stingray Cove, visit the Sedgwick County Zoo’s website.