An ocean view in Chicago

Enjoy a day in a tropical paradise this summer without traveling too far from home."Stingray Bay,” a traveling, tropical-themed exhibit, visits Chicago for the first time from Memorial Day through Labor Day at Brookfield Zoo.

“Stingrays are curious animals who love investigating, and they’ll approach you as long as people aren’t splashing,” says Andre Copeland, public programs manager at the zoo.

There’s no need for kids to be scared because of the sea creature’s name or reputation. Their stingers have been removed, making the rays safe to touch. And although most people describe stingrays as feeling slick and rubbery, Copeland has heard comparisons to"a shelled hardboiled egg, a wet hot dog and even velvet. That’s why we’re urging people to come on in to decide for themselves,” he says.

The exhibit will feature cownose stingrays, known for being active and energetic as they swim laps around the tank, and Southern stingrays, which tend to dwell on the bottom.

“Stingray Bay” is easy to find in the zoo’s East Mall, where the 16,000-gallon tank and exhibit are covered by a large, festive tent. Tropical music and décor liven up the atmosphere to make visitors feel like they’re in southern Florida or the Caribbean, home to large stingray populations.

Visitors must wash their hands from finger tips up to the elbows before touching the rays to remove all chemicals such as perfume, lotion, sunscreen or bug spray, which can harm the stingrays. Washing facilities are also available at the tent’s exit. Admission to the exhibit is $1 for members, $2 for other guests, plus the price of regular zoo admission. Visit the zoo’s Web site at or call (708) 688-8000 for more information.

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