ZooTampa on Wednesday said it will send water and tissue samples to a lab in Germany and hire two experts to try to determine how all 12 of its stingrays died last month.
The zoo said in a statement that the German lab is regarded as “the gold standard in water testing” and that the two experts “have extensive aquatic experience in the zoo and aquarium industry.”
It is expected to take “several weeks”, according to ZooTampa’s statement, to receive the test results back and produce a final report.
A ZooTampa spokesperson, Sandra Torres, said the lab is called Triton, which is located in Dusseldorf, Germany. Torres said one of the experts is a water systems/husbandry expert and the other is an aquatic animal veterinarian.
“We are grateful for the outpouring of support as we continue to mourn the loss of our stingrays,” ZooTampa wrote in an emailed statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “We are committed to conducting a thorough and transparent investigation.”
The Times previously reported the 12 stringrays died soon after the zoo opened on May 27. The cause of their deaths remains unknown. Law enforcement has not been brought in and there was no suspicion of foul play.
All 12 deaths happened suddenly. The day after, the zoo said that the 16,000-gallon Stingray Bay tank will be closed for at least eight weeks.
The 12 stingrays include seven cownose stingrays, four Southern stingrays and one Atlantic stingray.