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Natural connections, natural stories.

  • An Insider's Guide To Dinos Alive!

    by Christina Lasso | Mar 01, 2017
    They’re baaack! For the first time in 65 million years, dinosaurs have taken over Tampa Bay and are roaming the Zoo every day! Get up-close and personal with varying species of dinosaurs that move, roar and interact with you. Check out these tricero-tips to make your visit dino-mite!

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    1. Miss the Crowds
    Get to the Zoo early for optimal parking, less lines and minimal crowd! Let your mini-paleontologist soak in all the dinos with no hassle.

    2. Meet "Priscilla"
    A juvenile T-Rex is randomly roaming the perimeter of Prehistoric Park - be on your toes, she may surprise you! 

    3. A Carnivore and Omnivore's Delight

    The Grille formerly known as "Garden Grille" is now the "Dino Grille" - presented by Coca Cola Beverages Florida. Satisfy your cretaceous cravings with a brand new menu just for Dinos Alive! featuring the Meteor Meatloaf, T-Rex-a-Dilla, and a Jurassic Feast that will feed an entire ravenous family! 
    (BONUS TIP: Members receive a discount on dining - nom nom nom!)

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    4. Nose-to-Horn Encounter
    Get an up-close, unforgettable experience with a Greater one-horned rhino, commonly known as an Indian Rhino - a rare species vulnerable to extinction. During this once-in-a-lifetime experience, guests will feed and learn about this incredible species. A Zoo photographer will capture this interaction, don’t forget to use #tlpz!
    (BONUS TIP: Book in advance to ensure your spot)
    (EXTRA BONUS TIP: Zoo members receive a discount on the encounter - score!)

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    5. Pterodactyls Backpacks, Dino Night Lights, and T-Rex Slippers? Yes, please!
    Visit the Outpost, our brand-new gift shop - with dino-themed EVERYTHING, you'll find the perfect gift for the paleontologist protege in your family! 
    (BONUS TIP: Members receive a discount on retail purchase - woo hoo!)

    6. Green Screen Fun! 

    Make sure you stop by the Expedition Photo green screen at the entrance of Dinos Alive! The crazier and more animated your poses the better! You'll be roaring with laughter when you pick up your photos at the end of your adventure!

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    7. Birds are dinosaurs....Whaaaat?
    The daily Bird of Prey show is revamped just for Dinos Alive! Learn how these birds are the closest living relative to dinosaurs. And watch your head as these birds fly right over you!

    8. Fossil Fun 
    Mini-Paleontologists will be living the dream with fun activities like a fossil dig, a build-a-saurus area and a Dino Discovery Theatre! We also have REAL dinosaur fossils and artifacts in the paleontologist tent - woah. 

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    9. Extended Hours = More Dino Fun! 

    The Zoo will be open for extended hours in March and April, visit the homepage for daily times! 

    10. Feast with the Beasts

    Your taste buds are about to go WILD! Feast with the Beasts is an all-new beer, wine, spirits & food festival. Indulge in unlimited samplings from the hottest restaurants in Tampa Bay and enjoy beverages from open bars. Feasters get exclusive access to Dinos Alive! The Feast commences April 1-2, purchase tickets here!
    (BONUS TIP: Zoo members get a special deal on Feast with the Beasts tickets - take me to the Feast!)

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    11. MEGA TIP:  Come Back Again and Again
    It would take more than one day to fully experience Dinos Alive! Zoo members have unlimited access with NO blockout dates! 
  • Meet Micanopy

    by Christina Lasso | Feb 21, 2017

    Meet Micanopy – an endangered two-year-old, Florida panther that now calls the Zoo home.


    Micanopy is no longer considered viable for release to the wild due to its behavior. He was captured and removed twice from nearby residential areas because he was preying upon pets – putting himself, the public and their pets at risk. Officials with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) first captured Micanopy on April 12, 2016, following 2-3 weeks of run-ins with residents in a neighborhood near Immokalee in Collier County.

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    “Although this panther never displayed aggressive behavior towards humans, the pattern of behavior was concerning enough that we decided to remove it as a proactive response to the risks posed to residents,” said David Shindle, USFWS Florida Panther Coordinator. 

    The panther likely used exotic vegetation adjacent to houses in the area to hide out and stalk prey. Wildlife officials have since worked with Collier County Housing to remove this vegetation and decrease the likelihood of other panthers or bears lingering too close to residential neighborhoods in the future. Once secured, FWC staff transported Micanopy to our experts here at the Zoo, where he received multiple health assessments. Zoo veterinary professionals gave the panther a clean bill of health, and officials released the animal to the Big Cypress National Preserve in late May.  Nearly a month later, USFWS and FWC again captured the Micanopy on the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Big Cypress Reservation.  The panther was exhibiting the same pattern of behavior, frequenting residential areas and preying on pets.

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    The panther returned to the Zoo, where it received additional medical attention. It was around this time that the Interagency Florida Panther Response Team decided that, due to a lack of change in its behavior, this animal posed a public safety concern and should be permanently removed from the wild. This meant that if officials could not find the panther a suitable home, it would have to be euthanized.

    “As soon as we heard he could not be released again, we started looking at our own capacity and that of our partners to see who might be able to take this animal in,” said Dr. Ray Ball, Senior Veterinarian at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.

    After weighing the options carefully, the Zoo made the decision to house the panther, named “Mickey,” on-site. But this all hinged on one thing – how Mickey got along with Lucy, a resident Florida panther already living at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. In December, following an additional round of check-ups, Zoo staff began the process of introducing the two animals. The meetings went well, and the two panthers are now sharing the same habitat and can be seen by zoo visitors along with other native Florida wildlife.

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    “We are happy to have made a difference in the life of this animal, and we stand ready to assist USFWS and FWC with any future panther-related needs,” said Dr. Ball. “The Florida panther is more than an important symbol for the state, it is an integral species in our native ecosystem that our Zoo is dedicated to protecting.”

  • Love Birds

    by Christina Lasso | Feb 13, 2017
    Love is in the air. Literally. The Victoria crowned pigeons are feeling the romantic aura of February.

    Our love story begins as any does...with Victoria crowned pigeons. Boy pigeon sees girl pigeon. Girl pigeon sees boy pigeon. Boy pigeon shows typical breeding behavior, like swinging his head up and down while simultaneously wagging his tail feathers...normal stuff. The rest is history.
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    These two spend the entire day walking together, eating together, sitting on branches together, they are simply always together! And now their love story is taking the next step...nest building! 

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    Due to habitat loss, illegal hunting, and illegal trapping, their species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. We are thrilled their love story bloomed and continues to bloom.
  • Manatee "Jilola" Goes Home

    by Christina Lasso | Feb 09, 2017
    "Jilola" was rescued from Jim Long Lake, which is where her name comes from. After being found as a young calf with cold stress injuries, she was brought to the Zoo to receive critical care. Watch this video from our manatee care team to learn more:



    Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in a number of manatee rescues, rehabilitation and relocations. To date, the Zoo has cared for more than 400 wild manatees, treating illness and injuries related to boat strikes, cold stress, entanglement and red tide exposure.
  • A Wild Valentine's Day

    by Christina Lasso | Feb 03, 2017
    Dinner and a movie? Next.
    A walk on the beach? No, thanks.
    Up close encounters with wildlife? YES!

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    This holiday, take your loved one on a truly unique date to the Zoo. Enjoy the beauty of manatees, to koalas, to tigers and MORE!

    Make your special date to the Zoo even more unforgettable with one of our exclusive Premium Tours. You and your sweetie will have the opportunity to interact with a Southern white rhinoceros, hand-feed a Florida key deer or hand-feed an emu. Click here to book your tour!
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    From February 11-12, the animals will get into the spirit as well with special holiday enrichments throughout the day!

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    Saturday, February 11
    10:00 a.m. - Florida black bear
    10:30 a.m. - Malayan tiger
    11:00 a.m. -  Bornean orangutan
    11:30 a.m. - Red wolves
    12:30 p.m. - Clouded leopard
    1:30 p.m. - Siamang gibbon & Angola colobus
    2:00 p.m. - African penguins
    2:30 p.m. - Queensland koala

    Sunday, February 12
    10:00 a.m. - Florida panther
    10:30 a.m. - Aldabra tortoise
    11:00 a.m. -  Key deer
    11:30 a.m. - River otter
    12:30 p.m. - African penguins
    1:30 p.m. - Chimpanzee
    2:00 p.m. - Florida panther
    2:30 p.m. - Meerkats
  • Manatee "Emoji" 3-Month Update

    by Christina Lasso | Jan 25, 2017
    Do you remember orphan manatee calf, "Emoji?" The cute, little seacow came to the Zoo with a stomach full of trash and a fight for life. After spending over two months receiving critical veterinary care, "Emoji" has made great health strides and looks to have a promising future. 

    Watch this update from our Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Ray Ball, to learn more: 



    Be sure to see Emoji at the Zoo and get nose-to-nose with him at our beautiful new, manatee habitat! 

    UPDATE: On January 30, “Emoji” unfortunately passed away. The Zoo will perform a full necropsy, which will provide details on the exact cause of death. The manatee care staff are incredibly saddened by this loss and hope this serves as a teachable moment for the public on the dangers of plastic pollution.

    “Emoji is a tragic illustration of the consequences that simple human actions have on the world around us,” said Dr. Ray Ball, senior veterinarian for Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “Now more than ever, we must hold ourselves accountable, whether that’s keeping trash and plastics out of our waterways or being more mindful of potential consequences of propeller strikes on wildlife while boating.”

    Among other dire health concerns, veterinarians also found Emoji had plastic bags in his stomach. Many orphaned calves also mistakenly ingest fishing line, fishing hooks and other pollutants while searching for food. While the Zoo’s animal care team was able to initially stabilize Emoji, his long-term odds remained uncertain given the number of health concerns he faced at such a young age.

    Alongside helping educate the public about manatee care and the dangers of pollution, Emoji allowed the Zoo’s animal care team to learn more about critical manatee care. In the process of treating him, the veterinary staff discovered Emoji had a very common health issue with manatees called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC). Emoji was both clotting and bleeding at the same time. Thankfully, more than six years of DIC research and discoveries made at the Zoo allowed the manatee care team to take a novel approach to stabilizing and improving his condition. What the Zoo learned in caring for Emoji will likely inform and benefit future manatee rescues and rehabilitations.

    To date, more than 400 manatees have been treated at the Zoo. The veterinary team is specially-trained in manatee health, making the Zoo an international resource for manatee care. The Zoo remains steadfast in its commitment to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of manatees. In fact, the manatee care team will be participating in a number of manatee releases this week throughout the state.

    As a memoriam of the young calf and a way to educate the public on the dangers that face this species in the wild, the Zoo will be continuing its campaign to develop a manatee emoji. “The more we can get people talking about manatees and ways to protect them, the better. It’s a lesson that a simple human behavior like not throwing trash in waterways, can prevent manatee injuries and deaths. The emoji would serve as a reminder and dedication to the manatee calf, it’s a promise that we will always be there to protect future manatees like him.” said Dr. Ball. 

  • Smokey Jr. Released Back To Wild

    by Christina Lasso | Jan 06, 2017
    Smokey Jr. was brought to the Zoo for care and rehabilitation after being rescued from brush fires in Lake County back in April. He came in alert and reactive with a good appetite with mild singeing of the hair, but he otherwise appeared healthy and strong. 

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    The Zoo cared for the young cub using Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) protocols, as it has for numerous others, with the eventual goal of reintroducing him back to the wild. The minimal interaction with Smokey Jr. reduced the likelihood of habituation to help with his reintroduction. 

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    Smokey was temporarily relocated to Homosassa State Park in Citrus County before his release. The cub was about 100 pounds when released into the 53,000-acre forest in Marion County.

    We are so pleased to have been a part of this happy ending!
  • To Our Friends at The Florida Aquarium

    by Christina Lasso | Jan 03, 2017

    I learned late yesterday of the passing of Thom Stork, President & CEO of the Florida Aquarium. Thom fought a long and courageous battle with cancer, all the while continuing to successfully lead the Florida Aquarium. Thom was a valued colleague of mine during our respective tenures with Anheuser-Busch, where he served as VP of Marketing at Busch Gardens Tampa for many years, before taking on a similar role at SeaWorld of Florida. Thom's greatest strength was his impressive community relations proficiency, as well as his capacity to bring a genuine passion to work every day.  He brought those skills to the Florida Aquarium 14 years ago where he stabilized, reenergized, and led that institution toward new horizons. Thom loved to mentor and guide his staff, and he did so all the way until just days before he passed.  

    I have many fond memories of Thom Stork and I will miss him. Please join me in celebrating Thom's life, as well as his career and achievements. Our best wishes, prayers and thoughts are with Thom's wife Donna, his family, and his staff.

    Sincerely,
    Joe Signature







    Joseph A. Couceiro
    President & CEO
  • Elves Enchanted Forest

    by Christina Lasso | Dec 27, 2016
    Santa may have left the Zoo for the North Pole, but his Tree Top Lodge has been transformed into an Elves Enchanted Forest for the remainder of Christmas in the Wild. 

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    Tiny guests can show their gratitude for their Christmas presents by signing a large "Thank You" note to the big guy in red. Mischievous elves will be around to help you and perform a fun holiday show. Shows at the Elves Enchanted Forest being at 5:30 pm and continue every half hour.

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    Stay in the holiday spirit with festive entertainment and seasonal holiday dishes and cocktails! Who says Christmas has to end on the 25th?
  • Reserve Your Spot to See Santa!

    by Christina Lasso | Dec 14, 2016

    Make time  for more Christmas memories – now offering reservations to meet Santa!* Annual Zoo Members receive early access to Santa's queue line from 4-5 p.m. 

    1. Make your reservation at the entrance of Santa’s Tree Top Lodge and receive a designated time for your Santa session.
    2. Enjoy Christmas in the Wild while you wait – indulge in holiday treats, catch some festive entertainment and observe wildlife at night!
    3. Return to Santa’s Tree Top Lodge at your reservation time and tell Santa your wish list! 

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    *Santa reservations are limited and first come, first served. Must arrive within 15 minute reservation time block. If reservations are full, please use the general queue line. Reservations are only valid on the date and time of booking.

  • Presents for Primates

    by Christina Lasso | Dec 02, 2016

    During Christmas in the Wild, guests will have the chance to share in the Christmas spirit with some of their favorite animal friends!


    The Bornean orangutans go ape over wrapped presents filled with their diet and favorite treats including bananas, oranges, grapes, raisins and beans! Enrichments like this encourage natural behaviors and also gives the Orangutans something unique and fun to break up their day.

    Plus...it's just so fun to see the playful primates open their Christmas gifts! 


  • Santa Claus is Coming to the Zoo!

    by Christina Lasso | Nov 23, 2016

    Christmas wouldn’t be complete without ol’ Saint Nick!

    Santa's Tree Top Lodge is a secret get away nestled under a hidden tree canopy of the Zoo, completely surrounded by thousands of twinkling lights. Inspired Lake Sharon, this all-new, whimsical setting is made of natural materials including cedar and stone.

    While you anxiously wait to meet Kris Kringle, you can take advantage of additional photo opportunities, festive entertainment, a crepe station and holiday drink options! Upon reaching the Tree Top Lodge, you will be escorted by Santa’s playful elves!

    Inside Santa’s Lodge, you will be greeted by soft white Christmas lights and beautiful traditional decorations. Santa will be found in his rustic lodge sorting through his most treasured gifts as he prepares for that magical night on Christmas Eve.

    Start a new holiday tradition and join Santa in his lodge for the holidays, and capture your memories with photos spent with the “big guy in red.”

  • An Insider's Guide to Christmas in the Wild

    by Christina Lasso | Nov 16, 2016

    Get ready for an all-new twist to the holiday season as Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo introduces Christmas in the Wild. The Zoo is transforming into a world of winter wonder for 19 delightful nights with this brand-new event. From the sights of stunning lights, the seasonal smells of holiday treats, the excitement of festive entertainment and the magic of wildlife at night, Christmas in the Wild will offer guests of all ages a uniquely immersive holiday experience. Check out the tips below to make your night even more merry and bright!

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    1. Skip the lines
    2. Buy your full price admission online prior to your visit to avoid long lines.
      BONUS: Your ticket also gets you in to the Zoo* until the end of 2017 (block out dates apply). So, “pay for a day” and fa-la-la at the Zoo for as long as you want!

    3. Come hungry and follow the scent of S’more Bacon
    4. This year the Zoo offers an array of holiday dishes, and all with a wild twist from S’more bacon to a Candy Cane Martini to peppermint mousse – there’s something for everyone. Our Holiday Dining Plans offer a variety of options throughout the night. Didn’t use all of your meals in the Plan in one night? No worries! You can use your Holiday Dining Plan on multiple visits throughout the event.

    5. Feast like Three Kings!
    6. If you're looking for a traditional Christmas dinner, Safari Lodge will be the place for you! You can choose between Roasted Turkey Breast or Honey Ham along with your choice of two sides AND a dessert! Please note, the Christmas Feast is included for redemption using the Holiday Dining Plan (requires two items to redeem). 

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    7. Ditch the sleigh! Uber, Lyft or taxi your way to the Zoo
    8. On Saturdays, giddy up and save time by having your driver drop you off at the Zoo School drop-off point, located at the entrance on North Blvd. Be on the lookout for Zoo staff assistance!

    9. Here comes Santa Claus, along with activities to entertain the family while you wait!
    10. As you wait to tell the “big guy in red” your Christmas wish list, there will be additional photo opportunities, festive entertainment, crepe station and drink options!

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    11. On the 12th day of Christmas an elephant sent to me: trunk-painted art!
    12. No need to brave the hassle of holiday shopping, let the zoo be your one-stop shop! Give your loved ones the gift of the zoo. Make this holiday season – and 2017 – unforgettable for family & friends with the gift that keeps on giving: unlimited trips to the Zoo all year long. Other one-of-a-kind gifts include personalized ornaments, art painted by penguins and elephants, and much more!

    13. Tweets for days
    14. Stay ahead of the game with regular updates from our Twitter account. Make sure you follow us (@lowryparkzoo) to get the inside scoop on all that is happening during the event!

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    15. The early bird gets the candy cane!
    16. That’s how that saying goes, right? Arrive to the Zoo early for optimal parking, less lines and minimal crowd. Feel like a true insider when you soak up all that Christmas in the Wild has to offer before anyone else!

  • Bald is Beautiful

    by Christina Lasso | Oct 26, 2016

    They may not be the prettiest birds in the Zoo’s Birds of Prey presentation, but vultures are an ecologically vital group of birds facing a huge range of threats. From habitat loss to poisoning, some sub-species are now classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).          

    About twenty years ago, there were an estimated 40 million vultures in India, however, those numbers have diminished dramatically over the years. In Africa, conservationists have sounded the alarm about the increasing use of poisons in elephant poaching, which has had devastating effects on endangered vultures.

    Why are vultures so important? As nature’s own clean-up crew, vultures help prevent the spread of disease and even help the economy. For example, the recent decline of these birds cost India about $1.5 billion in terms of health care!

    A few years ago, animal care manager Melinda joined forces with the Hawk Conservancy Trust to travel to South Africa to assist with ringing and tagging of African white backed vultures. Ringing a bird helps to identify and observe these birds in the wild. With this field research, conservation advocates are able to study these magnificent birds including their distribution and spatial dynamics, mortality factors and the impact of different land use types on breeding, foraging and roosting behavior.

    So how can you help save this species? When you visit the Zoo, your admission helps our conservation efforts both at home and around the world. The Zoo’s outreach educators also created bumper stickers with the caption “Bald is Beautiful” and an armband with the phrase, “Save the Vulture” on it. Funds raised from the sale of these bumper stickers goes to support the Asian and African Vulture Crisis with field research, community outreach and habitat protection.

  • Connecting People and Animals Through Interactive Experiences

    by Christina Lasso | Oct 11, 2016

    Hand-made vulture vomit may sound gross, but at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, throwing the playdough-like substance onto pictures of potential predators to replicate a defense mechanism helps educate zoo-goers about the challenges these animals are facing in the wild and what action steps they can take to have a positive impact on the species.

    The Conservation Stations offer many interactive activities such as this as part of its guest experiences. These up-close encounters allow guests to have one-on-one interactions with professional educators to learn more about the animals at the Zoo, their wild counterparts and how we can be agents of change.

    Children can play the role of veterinarian or zookeeper to understand the responsibilities our Zoo takes on in order save endangered species.  Guests can even stage a mock manatee rescue with Mannie, a stuffed manatee plush. They also feature a variety of games, activities and biofacts to encourage every guest to have that “a-ha” moment, learn, laugh and have their questions answered. 

    Like their wild counterparts, the animals that reside at Lowry Park Zoo play an important role within the ecosystem. The Conservation Stations allow guests to participate in interactive learning about all types of animals from the African Bush Elephants, the largest land mammal, to the tiny critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toad.

    During special events, the Zoo also provides passports where guests can visit each station around the Zoo and collect stamps on their journey. These passports provide vivid pictures, fun facts, and overviews on some of the world’s most critically endangered animals.

    Feel empowered to make a difference in the world we all share at an upcoming visit where you can find conservation stations scattered throughout the Zoo.

    Learn more about how you can help the Zoo's conservation efforts here.
  • Celebrating Bornean Orangutan "Hadiah"

    by Donnie Gallagher | Oct 06, 2016

    Bornean orangutan "Hadiah" turned 11 years old recently and we wanted to take some time to reflect on what she means to her Orangutan family, her keepers, Zoo guests and to the Bornean orangutan population in the wild.

    Earlier this year, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared Bornean orangutans to be Critically Endangered, the last stage before they become extinct in the wild. Orangutans’ primary threat to survival is loss of habitat from palm oil production, logging and human development. Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is working to increase awareness about their plight and increase our conservation efforts to save orangutans in Borneo as well as at the Zoo.

    We were thrilled that "Hadiah" gave birth to her first baby earlier this year, a daughter named "Topi." "Hadiah" has been an excellent caregiver to baby "Topi," cleaning, nursing and handling her very carefully. As a sign of carefulness, "Hadiah" would always carry "Topi" with a protective arm even if she had a grip on mom. As the baby has grown in strength, "Hadiah" is much more at ease and allows the baby to cling to her without aid.

    Like all mothers, "Hadiah" needs some alone time and will often leave "Topi" with her own mother, “Josie,” for babysitting. Sometimes "Josie" will even initiate babysitting by taking "Topi" from "Hadiah" for short periods of time! Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is committed to learning all we can about orangutan needs in the hopes that our knowledge and skills can slow the population decline in the wild and potentially save this species from extinction.

    As we take time today to celebrate "Hadiah", here are some ways you can make a difference:

    • Be an informed shopper – Palm oil production is one of the most significant threats to wild orangutan habitat. Palm oil is used in hundreds of products we purchase every day from crackers to toothpaste to lotion. However, many companies have pledged to use on sustainable palm oil which means no further deforestation. You can download the Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping Guide available for free on Google Play in the iTunes app store to learn which products and brands have pledged to protect orangutans!  
    • Visit "Hadiah"– Swing by the Zoo this week to see "Hadiah" and the whole Orangutan family. Purchasing a ticket to the Zoo directly supports our Bornean orangutan conservation efforts. Plus, our staff can tell you additional ways you can get involved in protecting this species!

    We hope to see you soon!

  • There's a new calf in town!

    by Christina Lasso | Oct 05, 2016
    Zoo guests will soon see a new face charging around the Zoo’s Southern white rhinoceros habitat! Mom “Kidogo” gave birth to a female calf on Sept. 12, marking the fifth successful southern white rhino birth Zoo’s history. Even though she is a new Zoo baby, she is anything but small. The calf’s weight is estimated somewhere between 80-100 pounds! "Kidogo" will spend some important bonding time with her new calf, but pair will soon be in the Southern white rhino habitat for guests to see. For now, these cute photos and videos will have to do!
  • Come one, Come all: Lowry Park Zoo welcomes service animals

    by Donnie Gallagher | Sep 21, 2016

    Thanks to a first-of-its-kind service dog training program, Lowry Park Zoo is leading the industry in making exhibits more accessible to guests with service animals.

    The program got its start about two years ago when Lowry Park Zoo recognized the need for zoos and aquariums to be more accessible to guests with disabilities, especially those who are visually impaired. Dr. Larry Killmar, Chief Zoological Officer at Lowry Park Zoo partnered with several groups, including the National Association of Guide Dog Users, to launch a pilot program to desensitize the animals that reside at the zoo to the presence of service dogs.   

    Inviting service animals into a zoo presents a unique set of challenges, including concerns that the presence of service animals could upset the animals that reside at Lowry Park Zoo or vice versa. For nearly a year, the National Association of Guide dog Users and zoo staff, along with puppy raisers from Sun Coast Puppy Raisers, the program dispelled many of these myths.

    The desensitization included a series of repetitive interactions over a period of several months in areas of the Zoo that were restricted to service dogs, including the aviaries where birds are free to roam.  The goal was to make service dogs and zoo animals comfortable with each other and gauge any negative interactions or potential limitations, which never occurred.

    In fact, the results of the program were overwhelmingly positive. In one case, a guide dog and giraffe touched noses on the giraffe feeding platform after only a few minutes of interaction.

    When the program began, Lowry Park Zoo had seven areas where service animals were restricted, including the giraffe feeding platform. Now they have only one – an area in which visitors have close contact with wallabies. The Zoo is also working to make the tram accessible to service animals over the next few months.

    We are proud to continue expanding access to the zoo for all of our guests. Stay tuned for additional updates on this program.

  • National Iguana Awareness Day

    by Donnie Gallagher | Sep 08, 2016

    wallaroo juvenile females fiji banded iguana 1 jun 17 2016 - RESIZEDThe Call dove into the wild world of a few of our scaly friends, Fiji banded iguanas. We spoke with herpetology keeper Jason to learn about the Fiji banded iguanas that call Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo home.

    The Call:  Today we are talking about our Fiji banded iguanas and why they are so important to the Zoo.  Jason, can you tell us a little bit about these guys?

    Jason: Sure! Here at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo we understand that even though something is not cute and cuddly, it still may need our help. There are a lot of species out there threatened by invasive species or habitat loss, a huge example is our endangered Fiji banded iguanas.

    The Call: What problems are they facing in the wild?

    Jason: Their species is currently being threatened by non-native mongooses introduced to their islands which are killing off the Fiji iguana species as a whole, combined with habitat fragmentation and loss.

    The Call: Is their population declining?

    Jason: Great question, the populations of Fiji banded iguanas have seen a decrease of at least 50 percent over the last few decades. There are currently 55 Fiji banded iguanas in the Native American population SSP (Species Survival Plan) with eight of those iguanas currently too old to breed.

    The Call: So they need our help! How are zoos like ours helping?

    Jason: They certainly do. We hatched three iguanas this year, one male and twowallaroo fiji banded iguana egg  jun 8 2016 females, who are going to maintain the current US population, and hopefully help increase the population in the coming years.

    The Call: Are there goals or specific needs for the SSP?

    Jason: To achieve a stable population size, the SSP requires six to seven hatchlings per year; our iguana hatchlings are a great step toward that goal.

    The Call: Are there other zoos that are supporting this effort?

    Jason: Yes, there are other intuitions that support the effort, however there are only 10 breeding pairs in the United States, and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is home to one successful pair.

    The Call: That’s great news!  Do you have any final words for others to keep in mind to help the Fiji banded iguana, or any of our other scaly friends?

    herps Fijian banded iguana 5 mar 7 2014Jason: Yes of course, even you can help and support endangered reptiles by becoming aware of where your pets are coming from.  Don’t support the illegal pet trade and make sure species you have in your home are legal and are provided by permitted pet stores or breeders.  And as always, learn more at TLPZ.org.

  • CNN Shines Spotlight on Zoo Animals

    by Donnie Gallagher | Sep 06, 2016

    In August, the Zoo welcomed a crew from CNN’s production team for “Great Big Story” to film a series of our outreach animals. The videos, called “On The Brink,” tell the stories of a variety of animals at risk of extinction. The Zoo’s outreach team spent nearly five hours with the crew to film 10 different species on a special backdrop behind-the-scenes. One by one, the animals were carefully introduced and acclimated to the “set” and were encouraged to display their natural behaviors. As an extra incentive for participation, the animal care team provided favorite treats to each ambassador (tasty bits of meat and produce).

    Click the video below to link to the final products that have published on YouTube. We were thrilled to be selected as a zoological partner to help bring greater  awareness to some of the world’s most amazing wildlife!

    Links:

  • Tampa Bay City Pass
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • affiliate4

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

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