SINGAPORE - The giant freshwater stingray - believed to be the largest and heaviest freshwater fish in the world - was moved into River Safari's Mekong River zone exhibit today.
The last to join two other rare megafishes at the park's Mekong River zone, the move of the giant freshwater stingray is one of the most complicated and dangerous as it has a deadly barb on the base of its tail capable of piercing bones.
Known for its venomous barb and mighty ability to pull boats down the Mekong River, the gargantuan species can weigh up to 600 kilogrammes and grow up to 5 metres in length.
Close to 20 staff were deployed for the move, including aquarists and veterinarians. Due to the size of the stingray - currently at 2.4 metres long and weighing 62.5 kilogrammes - various arrangements were made in preparation for the move, including a specially-modified carrier truck to transport the stingray in controlled water conditions.
As a safety precaution, the stingray's venomous barb on its tail was trimmed. Stingrays can regrow their barbs throughout their lifetime.
Mr Wah Yap Hon, Curator, Zoology, River Safari, said: "We are thrilled that the last of our Mekong River giants are finally in. Over the past few months, we have been moving animals into their exhibits and have been looking forward to this day when we finally introduce the powerful giant freshwater stingray.
"This latest addition completes our collection of megafishes. We hope these aquatic ambassadors will help visitors gain a deeper appreciation of their species, and of freshwater habitats."
Found in river systems in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the giant freshwater stingray is under threat due to overfishing and degradation of riverine habitats as a result of pollution and dam-building.
In Thailand where the subpopulation has dropped dramatically, the giant stingray is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
This species is shrouded in mystery: their behaviour is elusive and no one knows of their exact numbers in the wild.
By bringing visitors up close to fascinating underwater animals such as the giant freshwater stingray, River Safari aims to highlight the importance of freshwater ecosystems and inspire positive actions for conserving them.
Visitors can catch the giant stingrays at the park's Mekong River zone, home to two other megafishes: giant Siamese carp and the critically endangered Mekong giant catfish.