ANIMAL CARE AND WELFARE OVERVIEW
INTERACTIVE STINGRAY AND SHARK EXHIBIT
Living Exhibits operates our Stingray Cove™ interactive elasmobranch exhibits at zoos and aquariums throughout North America. Current locations of Living Exhibits Stingray Cove™ include the St. Louis Zoo, the Memphis Zoo, Fort Worth Zoo, Denver Zoo with holding facilities in Panama City Beach, FL. Living Exhibits has built 16 Stingray Cove exhibits and managed these for more than 55 total seasons since our inception in 2005.
Living Exhibits Stingray Cove exhibits are Humane Certified through American Humane. Living Exhibits is aware of AZA accreditation standards and maintains or exceeds those requirements so that our clients will not have related issues during accreditation.
All Living Exhibits programs are interactive and feature either Stingrays and Sharks from the Gulf of Mexico and lower East Coast of the Atlantic seaboard. Our Stingray & Shark interactive exhibit include Cownose and Southern Stingrays, Shovelnose Guitarfish and Bonnethead, White Spotted and Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks.
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 of the original 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 early 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, occasionally trade or loan animals to AZA or American Humane accredited facilities.
Veterinary care and oversight of our animal collection is managed by Aimee Berliner, DVM, Diplomate and Specialist in Aquatic Medicine. Dr. Berliner works closely with Living Exhibits Senior Management as well as our Manager of Life Support System and Manager of Animal Husbandry 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 which is comprised of a Animal Husbandry Supervisor and two Animal Care Specialists reports daily via Tracks Animal Software 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 5 years has been less than 4% of our population which is comprised of over 250 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, 15 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.
Living Exhibits staff and management places the requirements and welfare of the animals as our highest priority and will continue to operate in a manner consistent with standards practiced by the highest level of zoological institutions. Any questions regarding our animal care or veterinary programs should be directed to Living Exhibits either by mail, e-mail or telephone.
10632 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 714 • Scottsdale, AZ. • Phone: 858.882.7826