Los Fresnos News

Zoo Staff Are Deeply Saddened by Unexpected Loss of Stingrays

Brownsville, Texas (Jan 17, 2023) – Zoo staff are deeply saddened to share the unexpected loss of five stingrays at Stingray Landing in the Russell Aquatic Ecology Center. An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of their passing.

The loss was noted on the morning of January 16 by aquarium staff. All life support systems were fully operational, and it was confirmed by an externally monitored alarm system that their pump and filtration system had operated properly throughout the night. Water chemistries were performed immediately, but did not provide any information that would help determine the reason for their demise.

The Zoo’s veterinary staff performed necropsies, and found them all to be in good body condition, with some changes that could have taken place post mortem. As is routine for diagnosing the cause of animal death, tissue samples will be sent to a veterinary diagnostic lab for further evaluation. As soon as further details are available, the public will be informed.

Over the past year, the Zoo has thoroughly evaluated and upgraded all of the electrical systems in the Russell Aquatic Ecology Center, and engaged the services of outside technicians to install an alarm system to relay pump failure messages, via email and text messages, to all aquarium and night keeper staff. The system, which is also monitored externally by the installing controls contractor, has worked flawlessly.
“At present, we are concentrating our efforts on determining the cause of this incident, and at this point are hoping that the diagnostic labs that will be looking at water and tissue samples will give us a clue as to what may have occurred,” said Patrick Burchfield, the Zoo’s executive director. “The Gladys Porter Zoo is deeply committed to every animal in our care, and if there is something we need to do differently, we will do it. Using both internal and external expertise will help ensure that there are no unnecessary future losses.”

The Gladys Porter Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Zoo officials have been in touch with the AZA Accreditation Commission, and as part of its commitment to meeting the highest standards in animal care and welfare, the Zoo will remain in touch throughout the completion of its investigation.