Henry Doorly Zoo opens new Stringray Beach interactive exhibit

(Omaha, NE) -- Visitors at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will get to experience a new, hands-on, interactive exhibit starting Friday.

At 10:30 Friday morning, the new Stingray Beach will open to guests.

Zoo president and CEO Dennis Pate said Stingray Beach is currently home to 31 stingrays, with eight more rays, that were born at the zoo, being added to the beach soon. The exhibit will eventually be home to about 50 stingrays.

The stingrays have been part of the zoo for about five or six years. Previously, the new stingray site was a metal building for picnics near the former sea lion pool. “The sea lion pool — not everybody’s seen that still,” Pate said, referring to the new exhibit that opened last summer during the pandemic.

Pate said the new Stingray Beach site and the sea lion pool mark the final parts of the zoo’s master plan. “Nobody expected us to raise the money to be able to do it in 10, 11 years."

The zoo has lots more plans, he said, but are still working out details with its board of directors and aren’t ready to share — though he did say there is a new flamingo exhibit opening in the months ahead as well as a renovated gorilla exhibit.

Mitch Carl, curator of aquatics at Henry Doorly, said the biggest benefit to the permanent exhibit is that the stingrays can stay put year-round. “Every year, we’d have to take the stingrays, move them to the aquarium, put them in a temporary holding, move them back, twice a year,” he said. “It was kind of hard on the stingrays and hard on us.”

The tank is also a little deeper, making it a more comfortable environment for the stingrays, he said, noting they have had nine baby stingrays in the last year.

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