That Time I… discovered my love for stingrays

Angelina+Padilla-Tompkins+discovered+her+newfound+love+for+stingrays+on+a+trip+%28Courtesy+of+Angelina+Padilla-Tompkins%29.

Ian Phillips

Angelina Padilla-Tompkins discovered her newfound love for stingrays on a trip (Courtesy of Angelina Padilla-Tompkins).

By Angelina Padilla-Tompkins, Opinion Columnist

For the first 19 years of my life, I had never seen a stingray before. In “Finding Nemo” maybe, but never in real life. 

I also had never been to the St. Louis Zoo, but that all changed in a single fun-filled weekend. 

In May 2021, my boyfriend decided to go down to St. Louis for the weekend. 

Day one we spent eight hours at the zoo having a total blast. I never would have expected to spend so long at a zoo, but we didn’t even feel the time go by. 

Upon our arrival we decided to purchase the Adventure Pass, a one-day pass that included the sea lion show, penguin enclosure, zoo line railroad, carousel and stingray cove, only costing $13 per person. 

In hindsight the pass was one of the best decisions to make that day, as it was extremely reasonably priced and included so much. We were able to go through the line to see the Stingrays over and over. We definitely got our money’s worth and had a blast. 

The sea lion show entranced the audience, myself included. We watched the beautiful animal jump through hoops, dive into water, balance a ball on her nose and jump through the air on command. 

When we entered the penguin enclosure, we were greeted with a wave of cold air. The sound of water and high-pitched squawking of penguins echoed against the stone walls. 

The penguins were essentially able to roam free in their enclosure similar to a large fish tank but included areas of stone and rock for them to jump off. 

My favorite area in the entire zoo was the stingray exhibit. 

After waiting in line for roughly 10 minutes before we were let into an area with a large oval pool filled with water, sand and stingrays! 

There appeared to be at least 15 stingrays circling the pool, small, large and medium. There was even a little lemon shark. 

The instructor told us to lean over the side, stretch your hand flat and let the stingrays come to you. They swam right up to us and allowed us to help them. 

Much to my surprise they were a slimy texture, not in a gross way, but smooth. The stingrays were not aggressive or harsh, instead they were almost playful but also shy. Their fins flapped just above the water as if they were waving at you, it was adorable. 

If it wasn’t for this visit, I never would have made an emotional connection with such a creature.