Plan a Visit: Stingray Touch

Frequently Asked Questions


About the animals


What do stingrays eat?
Rays in the wild mostly eat shellfish. At Shedd, they eat a variety of nutritious foods including gel diet, leafy vegetables, shellfish and other fish.

How old are the stingrays? What is the median lifespan of stingrays?
The rays in Stingray Touch range in age from juvenile to mature. They live to be about 15 years old.

How big are the animals?
Cownose rays can reach up to 36 inches wing tip to wing tip.

Do the stingrays like being touched?
Because animal care is the top priority at Shedd, Stingray Touch was developed closely with Shedd’s animal health team to create a safe environment for the animals and our guests. Cownose rays are social animals, but the 18,000-gallon habitat is also designed to include several retreat areas allowing the rays to engage or disengage with our guests at any time.

Are stingrays dangerous?
Don't let the name fool you—stingrays are actually gentle, soft animals that are safe for visitors to touch. The rays in Stingray Touch had their barbs (the part that stings) painlessly clipped in a manner that's similar to clipping fingernails. In the wild, rays use their stingers only as a defense mechanism.

Will the rays sting or bite me?
No. The rays’ mouths are located underneath their body, and the rays in Stingray Touch will only be touched on the upper side of their bodies.


About the exhibit

Is there an age limit/minimum for the exhibit?
Stingray Touch was designed to accommodate all of our guests, so all ages are welcome!

Is there a risk of being stung?
No. In the wild, rays use their barbs as a defense mechanism. Without the threat of predators, Shedd’s animal health team trims the barbs on the rays in the exhibit, similar to clipping fingernails. 

Is it guaranteed that I’ll be able to touch a stingray?
Cownose rays are social animals, but the exhibit features several retreat areas in the 18,000-gallon habitat to allow the rays to engage or disengage with our guests at any time.

How many rays will I be able to touch during the experience?
Each person’s experience in Stingray Touch will be different. While cownose rays are social animals, the 18,000-gallon habitat includes several retreat areas that allow the rays to engage or disengage with our guests at any time.

How will I be able to touch a stingray?
Guests will be able to feel the cownose rays as they swim near the water’s surface.

Are the animals safe outside?
Yes. The safety of the animals in our care is a top priority. Shedd staff will always be present to observe the well-being of the animals and the experience space will be secure at all times, day or night.

Are there germs in the habitat that might make me sick?
As with touching any animal or pet, there is a possibility of transferring pathogens, but saltwater rays have a lower risk of carrying these types of pathogens. Shedd staff will guide guests through a safe encounter that includes rinsing hands before and after interacting with the rays to minimize the likelihood of transmission.

What if the weather is bad? Will the exhibit stay open? Is that safe for the animals?
Shedd has extensive experience caring for stingrays. In the case of severe inclement weather, the rays will reside in a large indoor 45,000-gallon habitat at Shedd. The exhibit will close in the event of severe weather.

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