Rays Urged to Close ‘Touch Tank’—and Keep It Out of New Stadium

PETA Calls On Team to Stop Subjecting Stingrays to Errant Baseballs, Strange Sounds, and Constant Handling

For Immediate Release:
October 5, 2017

Audrey Shircliff 202-483-7382


As the Tampa Bay Rays wrap up yet another season with the lowest game attendance in Major League Baseball—and another baseball flew into the “touch tank” at Tropicana Field—PETA sent a letter this morning calling on the team’s president, Matthew Silverman, to shut down the tank and leave it out of the developing plans for the new stadium.

In the letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that, in addition to the risk posed by baseballs, the wild animals in the Rays’ touch tank are exposed to constant reverberations from boisterous crowds and handling by many different people at once. In recent years, dozens of rays have died in touch tanks at facilities across the country.

“With a new stadium in the works, it’s the perfect time for the Tampa Bay Rays to make a fresh start and save sensitive stingrays from errant baseballs and constant harassment,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the team to move into the 21st century and recognize that the only Rays who belong on a baseball field are the ones in uniform.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

PETA’s letter to Matthew Silverman, president of the Tampa Bay Rays, follows.

October 5, 2017

Matthew Silverman

President Tampa Bay Rays

Via e-mail: [email protected]

Dear Mr. Silverman,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including more than 276,000 who live in Florida, to ask again that Tropicana Field’s cruel “touch tank” be removed and left out of plans for your upcoming new stadium. The urgency of ending this cruel exhibit could not be more apparent after another baseball landed in the tank last month. In light of this latest incident, it’s time to acknowledge that you cannot keep these animals safe and that the only option is to shut it down.

Errant baseballs aren’t the only thing that threatens the stingrays. Crowded into a small tank, these shy, peaceful animals are exposed to constant reverberations from boisterous crowds, are poked and prodded by dozens of people at a time, and are unprotected from potential abuse. Survival rates are grim: In 2015, 54 stingrays died at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, and 18 died last year at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

These exhibits also put children at risk. After visiting a touch tank at a Tennessee aquarium, a child was hospitalized for nearly two weeks and had multiple surgeries after developing a bacterial infection that had spread from his finger to his entire hand. In 2016, a 4-year-old boy was taken to the hospital after he was bitten by a stingray at an Arizona zoo’s touch tank.

Since the Tampa Bay Rays are experiencing the lowest attendance in the league for yet another year, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s time for a change. Millennials are turning against the use of animals for entertainment, and kind fans simply don’t want to see sensitive stingrays subjected to flying baseballs and constant harassment.

I hope you’ll agree that the only rays who belong at Tropicana Field are the ones wearing uniforms. Thank you for your time and for considering this important issue. I look forward to discussing it with you.


John Di Leonardo, M.S.

Assistant Manager, Animals in Entertainment

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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