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The zoo has a new exhibit where you can touch stingrays

Dear Urban Decoder: The zoo has a new exhibit where you can touch stingrays. Isn’t that dangerous?—Alexis Brebner, East York

Stingrays have had an image problem ever since the late Steve Irwin was stabbed in the heart by one in 2006. But the Crocodile Hunter’s demise was a freak occurrence. Cruise lines routinely set up snorkelling excursions where vacationers are free to swim alongside the usually placid fish. In fact, if recent history is any indication, such exhibits may be more dangerous for the rays than the humans who touch them. In May, 41 of the pancake-like creatures died mysteriously at the Calgary Zoo, prompting the Toronto Zoo to ban any hand-to-ray contact until the cause of death can be determined. If and when the ban is lifted, zoo-goers can take comfort in knowing that the venomous barbs on the stingray’s tail are trimmed off regularly, just in case. Think of it as a precautionary pedicure.

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