Discovery Cove is thrilled to announce the birth of two spotted eagle rays, a threatened marine species which is a part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Born on 2nd April, the pups are receiving around-the-clock, world-class veterinary care from Discovery Cove’s team.
Spotted eagle rays are in the fish family, recognisable for their flat, wide bodies and unique spotted colouration. Like fingerprints, each spotted eagle ray has its own one-of-a-kind pattern. This is the first birth for spotted eagle ray parents Nerina and Apollo.
“The exciting birth of these eagle ray pups demonstrates our commitment to conservation and species survival efforts,” said Kyle Miller, President of Discovery Cove Orlando. “I’m very proud of our animal care specialists and veterinary team for developing leading-edge reproductive health expertise, technologies and capabilities. We are helping to save this species from extinction and look forward to seeing these pups grow and thrive at Discovery Cove.”
Immediately following the pups’ birth, the Discovery Cove veterinary and zoological teams performed a successful neonatal wellness exam, which is all part of the general health care all animals receive, in keeping with Discovery Cove’s high standards of care.
“The work done by zoological facilities like Discovery Cove is critical for the protection of spotted eagle rays and other animal populations worldwide,” said Dr. Candice Dorsey, Senior VP of Conservation, Management and Welfare Sciences at the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).
The AZA administers over 500 Species Survival Plan programs, including one for spotted eagle rays. “Like coral reefs and many other ocean dwellers, spotted eagle rays are a threatened species,” said Dr. Dorsey. “AZA-accredited facilities, like Discovery Cove, are working cooperatively through the Saving Animals From Extinction program (SAFE) to help save rays from extinction. Discovery Cove is to be commended for its investment in and contribution to research, education, and conservation efforts that help protect and rescue species at risk and their habitats.”
The AZA’s Species Survival Program oversees the population management of select species to maintain healthy and genetically diverse animal populations within the zoo community and to enhance conservation of the species in the wild. The AZA conservation partners that are involved in Species Survival Plan programs engage in cooperative population management and conservation efforts that include research, public education, reintroduction and field conservation projects.
Discovery Cove is a tropical day resort where guests enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with rays, dolphins and tropical fish, and hand-feed exotic birds. When the new spotted eagle ray pups are ready, they will be introduced to the Grand Reef where park guests will be able to see them.