The animal-rights agency PETA penned a letter to the Tampa Bay Rays in direct response to a pretty theatrical home run slugged by Miguel Cabrera. The Detroit Tigers superstar launched a long ball into the “touch tank” (a massive tank holding cownose rays that fans can actually pet) in deep center during a recent game at Tropicana Field.
Like we said, the shot and subsequent splash made for great television, but the men and women over at PETA were not amused. First, PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders sent a release to the media.
“The rays held captive at Tropicana Field not only were traumatically taken from their vast home waters but also are subject to harassment, loud crowds, and even baseballs capable of seriously injuring them,” Winders’ release stated. “When it comes to compassion, the Rays are batting .000.”
We know this is a very serious matter, but we can’t help but point out the baseball comparison. Solid work right there – but moving right along.
Winders also sent a letter to Tampa Bay Rays Senior Vice President John P. Higgins, urging him to close the tank. The full letter and media release can be found at WTSP 10, but here are two good snippets.
… please remove Tropicana Field’s reckless and cruel “touch tank,” where animals are confined to a small enclosure, subjected to constant reverberations from crowds, poked and prodded by up to 50 unfamiliar people at a time, and left unprotected from potential abuse. Your tank has the additional danger of being in a baseball stadium, where a ray could easily be injured or killed by an errant ball. Cruelty-to-animals charges could well result if and when a ball hits and injures or kills one of the rays. And as recent events have demonstrated, that threat is all too real.
The letter went on to detail statistics for the lifespans of rays held in captivity at other venues in North America.
Because rays require such specific conditions in order to live safely and comfortably, a “touch tank” is not anything to be proud of: 41 of 43 rays died in the Calgary Zoo’s touch tank, and 18 of 19 died at California’s Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Nineteen of 34 rays died in the Brookfield Zoo, and 11 of 18 died in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park. Please do not let the Rays sentence their namesake to the same fate.