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All 12 Rays In ZooTampa Touch Tank Mysteriously Found Dead

 Zoo officials say initial water quality tests and equipment checks aren't revealing any issues, but it could take weeks to get some results.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park
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Zoo officials say initial water quality tests and equipment checks aren't revealing any issues, but it could take weeks to get some results.

Updated at 12:30 p.m.

All 12 rays housed in a touch tank known as Stingray Bay at ZooTampa at Lowry Park were found dead on Thursday. The cause of death is unknown.

Animal care and veterinary teams are investigating the mechanical equipment involved in operating the tank, according to a statement shared by ZooTampa. They are also testing the water temperature, quality, oxygen and Ph levels.

Officials said initial examinations indicate optimal water quality and conditions, but that it may take several weeks for all of the test results to come in.

"The Zoo is looking into every possibility to uncover what caused the deaths, including conducting toxicology reports," according to the statement.

Stingray Bay is a closed system that only houses the rays, which included seven cownose rays, four Southern stingrays and one Atlantic stingray.

The attraction will remain closed for at least eight weeks as the investigation continues.

“Please keep our team in your thoughts, every professional here loves the animals we care for, and any loss is a difficult one,” a spokesperson said on ZooTampa's Facebook page.

Many zoo patrons commented on the post sharing fond memories of interacting with rays in the tank. Others expressed anger and demanded accountability for the rays' deaths.

This is a developing story. Stay with WUSF News for updates.

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Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.