Babies have been born to two new Stingrays which arrived at Bristol Zoo last summer. Nine Ocellated Freshwater Stingray pups were born last week after two new females were introduced to the Zoo’s male stingray last year. The new females, sisters named Catalina & Genevieve, arrived at Bristol Zoo from Weston Seaquarium and have wasted little time in breeding. Catalina has produced six pups and three pups are from Genevieve.
The babies, six females and three males, are around just 12cm (4.7 inches) long and will eventually grow to the size of a car tyre. They have now been moved into a separate, off-show tank to keep them safe from larger predators in the display tank. In the coming months they will be re-homed, once they are bigger and stronger.
Jonny Rudd, assistant curator of the aquarium at Bristol Zoo, said: “I’m really pleased that the new pairings of our stingrays has led to the birth of these pups. Our male, called Gamma, is still relatively young and smaller than the females but that obviously hasn’t had any adverse effects.”
Jonny added: “The sisters are very tame and respond to us tapping the side of the tank by coming to the surface where we can hand-feed them. They also do a thing called ‘spy hopping’ where they poke their eyes out of the water to see what’s going on.”
The adult stingrays can be seen in Bristol Zoo’s aquarium which was refurbished in 2010 to highlight the link between sustainable seafood choices and marine conservation as well as promoting greater awareness of the sustainability challenges facing the world’s oceans.
They share their tank with other South American fish species including ripsaw catfish, angel fish and fire oscars. The aquarium is also home to 70 species of fish, from a wide variety of tropical and temperate, freshwater and marine habitats. This includes species such as porcupine puffer fish, red-bellied piranhas, clownfish and Gladys and Gerry the giant gourami.
Most stingrays live in the sea, but the rays we have at Bristol Zoo are freshwater stingrays, which are widespread in rivers across South America, where more than 20 species can be found.
Oscellated river rays have a poisonous stinger near the end of their tail. This is only used in defence but can be extremely painful.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.