Little ray of sunshine at Living Coasts
A Devon zoo and aquarium has had an unusual festive delivery – a baby stingray.
The female bluespotted ribbontail ray was born just before Christmas at Living Coasts, in Torquay.
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Only a few collections in the UK hold this species. Torquay's coastal zoo is home to one male and two females, plus the pup, which is thought to be female.
Aquarist Adam Johnstone explained: "Aquariums find this species quite challenging and don't often breed them - it has been difficult to track down specific husbandry details about how to raise the pup."
Operations Manager Clare Rugg explained: "The youngster is about 10 centimetres in diameter – a third of the size of her parents, Trevor and Sandy. She has been moved to a nursery tank and is being fed on a variety of foods including live ragworms and fish."
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed the bluespotted ribbontail ray as Near Threatened. Although still relatively common and widely distributed, its coral reef habitat is threatened by development and by destructive fishing practices.
The bluespotted ribbontail ray (Taeniura lymma) is found throughout the tropical Indian and western Pacific Oceans, often on coral reefs. It can grow to be 35cm (14 inches) across, 80cm (31 inches) long and 5 kilos (11 pounds). It is capable of inflicting an excruciating wound with its venomous tail spines.
Stingray embryos develop inside eggs that are retained within the mother's body until they are ready to hatch. The young are born live. The gestation period is uncertain, but is thought to be between four to twelve months.
For more information go to www.livingcoasts.org.uk or ring 0844 474 3366.