ANIMAL CARE AND WELFARE OVERVIEW
Living Exhibits operates interactive elasmobranchs and avian exhibits at zoos and aquariums throughout North America. Current locations of Living Exhibits Interactive animal programs include the St. Louis Zoo, the Memphis Zoo, Fort Worth Zoo, Gulf World in Panama City Beach, Mystic Aquarium and Buffalo Zoo. Living Exhibits has built and managed exhibits at over 25 locations during the past 13 years.
All Living Exhibits programs are interactive and feature either Stingrays & Sharks or Birds of Australian origin. Our Stingray & Shark interactive exhibit include Cownose and Southern Stingrays and Bonnethead, White Spotted and Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks. Avian Exhibits are comprised of Budgerdiers, Cockatiels, Superb Parrots, Princess of Wales Parrots and Kookaburras.
Animal acquisition for Living Exhibits Stingrays and Sharks began through commercial providers in Florida which are licensed by the State to provide these animals for public display. Many animals in our exhibit were bi-catch meaning that the animals were incidental catch by fisherman and instead of letting the animals die, they were collected and brought back to optimal health and introduced to collections such as ours. Twenty percent of our Cownose Stingrays were rescued from a canal where they had become trapped and unable to return to the ocean. Those animals were rehabilitated, introduced into our collection and are now located at our various exhibits. Other animals in our collection were captive born either in our own exhibits or at other institutions. We do not collect animals from the wild as our collection is sustainable in terms of reproducing within our exhibits and/or trade and loan with other institutions.
Veterinary care and oversight of our animal collections is managed by Aimee Berliner, DVM, Diplomate and Specialist in Aquatic Medicine. Dr. Berliner works closely with Living Exhibits Senior Management and our General Curator, Nick Deuser to maintain an exceptional program of animal care. Each of our exhibit locations is managed by an on-sight Exhibit Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor who are employees of Living Exhibits. Dr. Berliner determines and manages treatment regimens and if a mortality occurs, manages the application of necropsy and gross pathology reports when appropriate. When appropriate, Dr. Berliner communicates with the Veterinary Staff at our host institution regarding animal treatments or other issues that zoo management should be aware of.
The on-site Living Exhibits staff reports daily via emailed logs to Living Exhibits management and our host facility veterinary and animal care management. These reports provide information on water chemistry, animal feeding and husbandry and any animal issues so that management and our veterinary staff may constantly monitor trends and issues. Our mortality rate for the last 4 years has been less than 4% of our population which is comprised of over 200 stingrays and sharks.
The water in our exhibits is artificial seawater much like most large aquariums utilize. We utilize Crystal Sea MarineMix© salt and the highest quality water management agents. The life support equipment at our exhibits is significant and includes protein fractionation, UV sterilization, BioBeds, Sand and Gravel filtration, carbon filtration and ozone contact chambers and degassing. Critical elements of our Life Support System are alarmed and redundant. Our pools are crystal clear and water chemistries are monitored throughout the day to insure optimal pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature and ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels.
Our animals are fed human quality seafood including peeled shrimp, krill, squid, mackerel and capelin fish. All food is stored in freezers and thawed on the day of feeding. Upon thawing, our food is chopped into appropriate pieces and kept chilled until feeding. Vitamins and supplements are added to replace nutritional aspects lost during freezing. Animal weights and diets are carefully monitored so that we are providing optimal quantity and quality of diet by species.
Since our inception, 13 years ago, we have been successful at having a very low mortality rate and have enjoyed having more than 50 stingray pups born at our exhibits! We have enjoyed surplusing or loaning our animals to many institutions to support their programs and genetic wellbeing of various institutional collections. We are committed to providing the highest level of animal care and place the priority on this even over visitor experience but the two are not mutually exclusive. Interactions with our animals include gentle touching and feeding by our guests. All of these activities operate under close supervision of poolside interpretive and of husbandry staff. Our facilities are designed to provide the animals with “rest zones” and “hides” for all animals to utilize when they choose to. Living Exhibits provides off exhibit holding pools that can be used to house any new pups, injured or ill animals or animals requiring some time away from the public.
Living Exhibits staff provide many forms of enrichment to our animals including various toys and interactions with the staff in water including target training, puzzle toys and obstacle courses which the animals participate with vigor. Food deprivation is never utilized in our training programs but instead, a strong operant conditioning program is utilized as part of the enrichment program.
Beginning in the 2019 season, Living Exhibits is teaming with Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida to support on-going conservation research for Elasmobranch. Educational graphics regarding these research and conservation programs will be prominently displayed in all of our exhibits.
10632 N Scottsdale Rd Ste 714 • Scottsdale, AZ. 85254 • Phone: 858.882.7826