Mother Goose had one of the most unique experiences of her life yesterday with her family at the Brookfield Zoo. The courageous keepers of sea creatures at the zoo have amazingly set up a temporary exhibit called Stingray Bay — a place to pet stingrays. Yes, believe it or not, petting the animals is not only allowed, it is encouraged. The sweet and happy rays there actually like to have their backs stroked gently as they glide around their 16,000 gallon swimming pool.
Naturally, at first we were hesitant to enter into this strange and unknown experience. Ever suspicious — certainly this must be some sort of a hoax, we all thought simultaneously and at once. But at the ridiculously inexpensive cost of $2.00 per person, in the long run, we just couldn’t resist. Our noses delightfully followed the salty scent of sea water, and suddenly there we were in the remarkable presence of fifty Cow-nosed Rays.
They were actually smiling as they swam around their sea-shelled tank.
All around the pool, children and adults alike had their arms dipped into the ocean water up to their shoulders, all laughter and wonderment on their faces as they caressed the incredible rays swimming merrily under the water. The rays are very sensitive around their wings and tails and mouths, so petting their backs is the best way to connect with them. Now and then, one would half leap out of the water, and we knew some human person had petted them inappropriately…
They felt very soft and slightly slippery, but not slimy. Their wings silently flap up and down — so much like birds flying underwater. Their tails had been slightly trimmed; presumably to protect us visitors. None of us wanted a Steve Irwin experience… I suspect these rays were not nearly as dangerous as other types of rays. Plus, they WERE smiling as they swam along.
Omigooseness, if you EVER see a place that allows petting of stingrays, you simply MUST experience it first hand — my simple words cannot convey the joy of connecting with a real sea creature like this!