Kind of like rock.
That's what petting a stingray feels like, at least according to a class of third-graders from St. Christopher in Midlothian as they got an exclusive sneak peek at Shedd Aquarium's new Stingray Touch exhibit.
Located outdoors on the aquarium's south terrace under a tent, the seasonal exhibit features about 40 cownose rays and yellow rays gliding through a 20,000-gallon pool with a waterfall.
After washing their hands, guests can stand at the pool's edge with their hands in the water, waiting for a school of rays to glide by. Each experience lasts 15 minutes and is led by Shedd staff sharing interesting facts about the stingrays' habits and lifestyles.
The cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) are constantly on the move and glide through the water in schools, sometimes bringing their wing tips above water and resembling a small shark fin. The smaller yellow rays (Urobatis jamaicenis) are more solitary and almost camouflage with the bottom of the pool.
Shedd President and CEO Ted A. Beattie says the aquarium hopes this new exhibit will leave a lasting impression.
"It's a memorable experience that will stay with each visitor, inspiring them to care about the health of our oceans and the magnificent creatures that live in them," Beattie says.
Stingray Touch opens May 17 and will run through the fall, weather permitting.
Admission to Stingray Touch is included in the Total Experience Pass ($37.95 per adult, $28.95 per child ages 3-11). Timed tickets for Stingray Touch can be purchased as an add-on to the Shedd Pass ($28.95 per adult, $19.95 per child) for $5 a person ($3 for members).
Alaina is the digital content editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago.
See more of Alaina's stories here.