Stingrays coming to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Published: Apr. 6, 2016 at 8:34 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 7, 2016 at 3:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Stingrays are coming to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and visitors will even be able to touch them if they want.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors just approved the exhibit, "Stingray Touch," which will be unique to southern Arizona.

The exhibit will feature a 10,000 gallon outdoor aquarium that will eventually will hold about two dozen Cownose Stingrays. Fourteen young stingrays are waiting behind the scenes at the museum.

A donor provided the $200,000 for the exhibit. The Phoenix Zoo donated the stingrays, which visitors will be able to touch and even feed.

"There's nothing else like it. Once you get to actually experience it, it's quite often going to be different than what you expected and you walk way with this kind of once-in-a-lifetime feel of, 'Wow. It's something that now I'm comfortable with the concept of touching a stingray,'" said Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Executive Director Craig Ivanyi.

To help sustain the exhibit, Ivanyi said the museum will charge a small fee to enter the exhibit and to feed the fish.

The museum features plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert, and that means stingrays from the Gulf of California.

"Quite often people think about the desert as right here - Tucson. They don't think about how it's 200,000 square miles and half of that is an ocean and that there's 900 islands that occur in the Gulf of California," Ivanyi said. "When you look at the gulf region it's the reason we have the weather we do in the summer. It's the reason we have a lot of plants and animals that we see. So it's really important for people to understand the entire scope of the Sonoran Desert region."

Ivanyi said he expects the stingrays will be popular with visitors, but he's also expecting it will be an educational experience.

He said when people have an understanding of our region and the creatures that live here, they also can understand the importance of conservation.

Ivanyi said, as happens with other museum exhibits, the water in the stingray exhibit will be recirculated and used for irrigation at the museum.

"Stingray Touch" is expected to open in midsummer.

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