Cincinnati Zoo and Newport Aquarium Pull Off a Sting Operation

Posted March 26, 2024 by Angela Hatke

CINCINNATI, OH (March 26, 2024) — Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and Newport Aquarium joined forces last week to conduct routine comprehensive health examinations on the Aquarium’s 14 female cownose stingrays. Multiple steps are required to evaluate each ray, and having vet staff members from both organizations working together maximized the operation’s efficiency and minimized the time the animals were confined to a smaller space.


“We were able to assist the Aquarium’s animal health team with handling, record keeping, microchip scanning, blood collection, and ultrasounds,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s director of animal health, Dr. Mike Wenninger.

“We set up stations in Stingray Hideaway with target goals for each,” said Newport Aquarium’s veterinarian, Dr. Hali Jungers. “At station one we induced anesthesia, took body measurements, and confirmed their microchip number/ID. They had ultrasounds and blood draws at the next station, and we got their weights at station three. The zoo staff did great with getting blood and making blood smears to send out to the lab for evaluation!”

Dr. Wenninger collaborated with Dr. Jungers before when both were working at facilities in California.  That connection made it easy for her to reach out to ask for a professional favor.

“When Hali asked if our team was interested in helping with the rays, everyone was excited. It is interesting how paths cross throughout careers. Our previous work together on sharks and rays made this collaboration seamless.”

This effort not only underscores both facilities’ commitment to the health and welfare of the animals in their care but also highlights the strength of collaboration and resource sharing.

“This event (which Dr. Mike and I call a “ray roundup”) is a really great example of preventative medicine and the types of things that are involved in screening our animals for early detection of any health problems and being proactive in their care,” said Dr. Jungers. “It meant a lot to have the team from the Zoo here to help us with the effort, and we loved providing them with the opportunity to handle and work with a species that is different than what they work with day to day.”

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and Newport Aquarium are committed to leading by example in the field of conservation, continuously seeking innovative ways to protect and preserve the natural world. Such collaborations are vital for advancing animal healthcare and contribute significantly to the broader field of zoological medicine.

For more information, please visit Cincinnati Zoo and Newport Aquarium.