Thursday afternoon 16 November 2017, after more than two years of absence, a whiptail stingray of the Himantura uarnak species once again became acquainted with the stingray tunnel in Arnhem’s tropical coral reef aquarium, Burgers’ Ocean.
The animal returns to its familiar home disillusioned, but an experience richer.
Late 2015, curator Max Janse sent out a request in the form of a classified ad on behalf of a male whiptail stingray to 400 public aquaria. It was a success. In Legoland Windsor, England, a single female of the same species responded to the ad. On Friday 6 November 2015, the Arnhem male moved to Windsor. Now, after a two year trial period, there is unfortunately still no love between the pair of stingrays. With his goal unachieved, the male returned back to his home base on Thursday afternoon, 16 November.
The playful ad placed by Max Janse did have a serious undertow. Because they are kept in only a few aquaria, it turned out to be concerningly difficult to find a female for this whiptail stingray with the scientific name Himantura uarnak. In addition, there are three very similar types of whiptail stingrays, so potential candidates need to be carefully checked if they are the right species. In order to ensure a genetically healthy zoo population, it is only desirable that animals of the same species breed together.
Burgers' Zoo is internationally renowned for the successful breeding of various shark and ray species. For example, the Arnhem animal park is the largest breeder of spotted eagle rays in the world. The European population of grey stingrays and bluespotted ribbontail rays also has a lot of animals with Arnhem blood running their veins. Hopefully, in the near future it will be possible to find another female whiptail stingray of the right species who falls madly in love with the Arnhem male.