APRIL 5, 2011 -- There's something fishy going on at the Saint Louis Zoo this summer -- sharks are invading the pool at Stingrays at Caribbean Cove! No worries, though, these are small, mild-mannered bonnethead and brownbanded bamboo sharks swimming about with cownose rays, southern stingrays and horseshoe crabs. Stingrays at Caribbean Cove featuring Sharks will be open April 23 through September 25, 2011.
Located under a pavilion near Lakeside Cafe, the ocean creatures glide through a 17,000-gallon warm saltwater pool. Visitors are encouraged to dip their hands into the water and allow the stingrays to touch them. Occasionally, they will have an opportunity to feed them. These are hardy species that interact well with people in a safe and fun manner.
"We're excited to introduce sharks to our visitors this year," said Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown president & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. "Connecting people with wildlife is an important part of our mission. Not everyone in our part of the world has had the chance to get in touch with ocean life in such a close-up intimate way."
Bonnethead sharks (pictured above) are the smallest members of the hammerhead family. They have a semi-circular head resembling a shovel or bonnet. Brownbanded bamboo sharks (pictured at right) are known as "cat sharks" because the barbels, or sensory organs, near their mouth resemble cat whiskers.
The sharks at Stingrays at Caribbean Cove are small, shy and docile fish and pose no danger to humans. They range from two-and-a-half to four feet in length and are bottom-dwelling species that prey on small fish, crabs and invertebrates. Visitors will not be feeding the sharks, but occasionally they may have an opportunity to be touched briefly by a shark as it swims by.
Stingrays at Caribbean Cove will be open April 23 through September 25, 2011, during zoo hours. The zoo's spring hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 26. Admission to Stingrays at Caribbean Cove is $3 for the general public and $1.50 for Zoo Friends members. Children under two are free. Admission is free the first hour the zoo is open.
Photos courtesy of Saint Louis Zoo.