Fans of the Stingrays at the Shedd Aquarium will soon get the chance to touch the creatures they have been observing from the other side of the glass.
The Stingray Touch outdoor seasonal exhibit is scheduled to open this spring, according to a spokesperson for the Shedd Aquarium.
Barrington Pools has been selected to build the new 18,000 gallon pool that will give visitors the chance to touch the Cownose stingrays on the back as they swim along the surface.
“It’s a big deal for us,” said Michael Murrillo, sales and PR director for Barrington Pools. “It’s an honor and a privilege.”
Murrillo believes Barrington Pools was selected because Shedd Aquarium knows that they construct very high quality pools.
“There’s nobody else that builds a more sound structure,” Murrillo said.
In 2007, Barrington Pools built a similar tank for a Stingray exhibit at Brookfield Zoo. Murrillo said this would be the same type of tank, but the one at the Shedd Aquarium is a little bit bigger.
Elise Waugh, coordinator for communications and public relations at the Shedd Aquarium, said that the outdoor exhibit will be located at the Shedd’s South Terrace and is an 80-feet-by-22-feet habitat. When visitors are exploring the exhibit, they will be under a tent and have a view of Soldier Field.
“This is the first outdoor seasonal exhibit,” Waugh said.
Waugh said the tank currently isunder construction and, weather permitting, the opening date for the exhibit is Apr. 27.
Waugh said that stingray handlers clip the barbs on their tails, which are defense mechanisms for the Stingrays in the wild, make them safe for visitors.
“They are super acclimated to people and our team,” Waugh said. “They approach us.”
Waugh said that the exhibit also will let people view speckled yellow rays, which tend to stay at the bottom of the tank. The exhibit will include 40 cownose and yellow rays.
The tank will have a 2.5-feet depth at the edges so that guests are able to interact with them. The pool will be significantly deeper in the middle so the Stingrays also will be able to enjoy some privacy.
“It’s really cool for the Shedd, because we have a lot of Stingrays, and for decades they have been fascinated with them,” Waugh said. The Shedd has been caring for various species of Stingrays in various exhibits, and the Yellow Rays and the Cownose Rays that will be moved to the new outdoor exhibit are coming from the Caribbean Reef exhibit.
During the 15-minute experience, staff members at the Shedd Aquarium will provide interesting facts about these animals while guests are feeling their slippery, soft wings. Despite their reputation, Stingrays are gentle animals that are safe for guests to touch, according to a statement from Bill Van Bonn, DVM, the vice president of animal health for the Shedd Aquarium.
Barrington Pools has been building top-notch custom swimming pools for 40 years, and has installed several thousand pools.
The company believes its strong customer service, workmanship and technology make it one of the premier pool builders in the entire Chicago area. In addition to pools, Barrington Pools designs and builds spas, decks, islands, outdoor kitchens, pool bars and more.