Here, stingray! Here, stingray! Here …


Beau McPhail, grandson of Joe Lee III, pets a stingray during a recent trip to the Memphis Zoo.

A Comment By Joe Lee III

   When was the last time you petted a stingray?
   Most of us can’t remember, but if you are looking for a really fun weekend family outing, we suggest going to the Memphis Zoo — and — petting a few stingrays.
   Last Sunday we went to early church and then piled in the car with grandson Beau and headed north.
   I’ll have to admit I was a little apprehensive, but I knew the folks at the zoo had it figured out.
   They did.
   The fish were in a 17,000 gallon shallow tank in a big pavilion. There were scores of youngsters — and oldsters — leaning over the side with one or both hands in the saltwater.
   It was incredible!
   As soon as Beau put a hand in the water a stingray came up to be rubbed on its back. Then another got jealous and swam up. They were like puppy dogs. I could not believe it.
   In the main pool they ranged in size from a foot or so across, to close to three feet across. They all wanted stroking — the smaller ones and the giant ones alike.
   In the middle of the man-made pond was as small pen labeled “The Nursery.” In the nursery there were several tiny stingrays bumping at the restraining netting, eager to get out and play with the humans.
   I guess we spent close to an hour in there. Grandparents, and others who weren’t petting the fish, had just as much fun watching the event and snapping photos. (If you are interested, you’ll find a photo of the stingray feeding attached to this column in the Editorial Section of
   If you time your visit right, you can participate in one of the public feedings.
   The Memphis Zoo is really nice. It is not cheap, so take some cash when you go. Take some green, folding cash, because once inside many of the concessions will not take plastic cards. You’ll come out with a lighter pocketbook, but a day heavy on memories and photos.
Memphis Zoo members get some discounts. It might be worth exploring a membership, because you’ll surely want to go back to see some of the other terrific exhibits.

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