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PETA takes issue with Tampa Bay Rays 'touch tank' after home run ball is hit into it

9:51 AM, Jul 11, 2013   |    comments
Screen capture of Detroit Tigers' 3rd baseman Miguel Cabrera hitting home run into stingray tank on June 30.
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- A popular feature at Tropicana Field, the cownose ray "touch tank" is under attack again by PETA after Detroit Tigers' third baseman Miguel Cabrera hit a home run ball into it on June 30.

The animal rights group says the incident shows the danger having the tank in the outfield poses to the stingrays inside it and is urging Senior Vice President John P. Higgins to close it.

"The rays held captive at Tropicana Field not only were traumatically taken from their vast home waters but also are subject to harassment, loud crowds, and even baseballs capable of seriously injuring them," said PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders said in a release to the media Wednesday. "When it comes to compassion, the Rays are batting .000."

PETA announced it sent Higgins a letter urging the Rays organization to return the animals to the ocean. So far, the Rays have not commented on PETA's request.

We have attached a copy of the letter below:

 

Dear Mr. Higgins,

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and its more than 3 million members and supporters, including more than 100,000 who live in Florida, to ask again that you please remove Tropicana Field's reckless and cruel "touch tank," where animals are confined to a small enclosure, subjected to constant reverberations from crowds, poked and prodded by up to 50 unfamiliar people at a time, and left unprotected from potential abuse. Your tank has the additional danger of being in a baseball stadium, where a ray could easily be injured or killed by an errant ball. Cruelty-to-animals charges could well result if and when a ball hits and injures or kills one of the rays. And as recent events have demonstrated, that threat is all too real.

When PETA previously contacted you, we expressed concerns about both the tank itself and complaints about how your team was offering to give $5,000 to charity for any home runs hit into the tank. You claimed to be unaware of any such offer (although references to it remain on your website in at least four places) but declined to remove the tank to protect the rays inside. At least two balls have been hit into the tank, despite your assurances that this was nearly impossible.

Because rays require such specific conditions in order to live safely and comfortably, a "touch tank" is not anything to be proud of: 41 of 43 rays died in the Calgary Zoo's touch tank, and 18 of 19 died at California's Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Nineteen of 34 rays died in the Brookfield Zoo, and 11 of 18 died in the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park. Please do not let the Rays sentence their namesake to the same fate.

The Rays can make a genuine commitment to wildlife by working in conjunction with the Florida Aquarium to rehabilitate and return all the rays to their rightful wild home. May we hear that you will get the process underway? It would raise a cheer in the wildlife protection community and generate very good press. I can be reached at 202-309-4697 or DelicannaW@petaf.org. Thank you for your time and attention.

Yours truly,

Delcianna Winders, Esq.
Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement
PETA Foundation

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