July 6, 2019 5:48 pm

Protesters gather at Assiniboine Park Zoo aiming to shut down Stingray Beach exhibit

WATCH: A group of protesters gathered outside the Assiniboine Park Zoo aiming to shut down the zoo's Stingray Beach exhibit.

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Animal rights advocates are continuing their fight against the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

They hope to force a shutdown of the zoo’s Stingray Beach exhibit.

Over a dozen rays are being housed in a shallow 1,300-square-foot pool located in the zoo’s rotating exhibit gallery.

READ MORE: Assiniboine Park Zoo welcomes visitors to new interactive stingray exhibit

“They’re being touched and handled all the time and they have nowhere to go,” says Danae Tonge, the organizer of Saturday’s protest. “That seems really unethical to us, that these stingrays are being subjected to this and have nowhere to go.”

Danae Tonge (Left) standing outside the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s main parking lot on Saturday.

Marek Tkach / Global News

Over a dozen members of a group named Manitoba Animal Save gathered at the entrance of the zoo’s parking lot to advocate for the closure of the exhibit.

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The same group held a similar protest last weekend as well.

“This is really an opportunistic cash grab on the part of the zoo to profit off of the backs of animals who are living in a bathtub compared to the 2,000 miles they would normally migrate,” says Kirstin Lauhn-Jensen, a member of Manitoba Animal Save.

Just over a week ago, the zoo revealed that three male stingrays died as a result of aggressive mating behaviour.

READ MORE: Lusty stingrays lead to temporary closure of Assiniboine Park Zoo exhibit

The exhibit was briefly closed following the incident but has since reopened to the public.

In a statement to Global News, the zoo says it is taking steps to prevent any further injuries to the 24 remaining stingrays.

“We have reduced the water temperature and added window coverings to help shift the stingrays out of mating season and have separated the males and females within the main pool,” says Laura Cabak, the communications officer for the zoo.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Humane Society calls for permanent closure to zoo’s controversial stingray exhibit

The protesters say the zoo has not contacted them directly, and that they intend to continue protesting until action is taken.

“We’ll keep the pressure on them,” says Tonge. “We have emails going out, we have a petition that circulated with 1,100 signatures as of yesterday. We’re going to keep the pressure on, and we’ll be back if they don’t shut it down.”

WATCH: Zoo staff feel the loss of animals, much like pet owners do

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