Controversial veterinarian accused of killing two manatees is now leaving ZooTampa

Dr. Ray Ball will leave the organization to pursue academic opportunities.

Controversial veterinarian accused of killing two manatees is now leaving ZooTampa
Photo via Adobe Images

Dr. Ray Ball, ZooTampa’s senior veterinarian who is accused of using experimental drugs to treat manatees, among other things, is stepping down after 9 years with the organization.

The zoo made the announcement in a statement Friday, saying Ball will leave to pursue academic opportunities. The zoo didn't say what those opportunities are exactly.

"We are grateful for Dr. Ball’s years of service and dedication, and his enormous contributions to the care and well-being of zoo animals and the conservation of wildlife during his tenure," said ZooTampa in the statement. "Among his numerous successes are his leadership in achieving the first and only American Animal Hospital Association certification for a zoological institution, and his efforts in helping make ZooTampa a leading provider of exceptional veterinary care for Florida panthers and other iconic native wildlife."

ZooTampa will begin the search for a new senior veterinarian, and Lauren Smith will continue to serve as the interim lead veterinarian.

Last November the zoo was ordered to "cease all activities involving manatees" after Ball was charged with mistreating the animals. Allegations against Ball included releasing manatees back into the wild with open wounds and exposed bones, performing in-field amputations of flippers, using experimental drugs on the animals, and incorrectly performing a thoracocentesis, or a "chest tap," on the manatees. He was also charged with killing two manatees. 

After a lengthy suspension, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved ZooTampa to once again allowed to accept rescue manatees last March.

Follow @cl_tampabay on Twitter to get the most up-to-date news + views. Subscribe to our newsletter, too.

About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Euclid Media Group.
Scroll to read more Tampa Bay News articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]