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Amazing Asia: Animals and Traditions Celebrated This Spring at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

by User Not Found | Mar 03, 2015
This spring, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is celebrating Asia and specifically China, the largest country in Asia, with Zoominations, a traditional Chinese Lantern Festival , open nightly at 6 p.m. By day, Zoo guests can get closer to the extraordinary wildlife of Asia including two new residents: a Malayan tapir calf and adult Malayan tiger.

Newborn Tapir and New Female Tiger Welcomed

TAMPA, Fla. (March 3, 2015) — This spring, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is celebrating Asia and specifically China, the largest country in Asia, with Zoominations, a traditional Chinese Lantern Festival , open nightly at 6 p.m. By day, Zoo guests can get closer to the extraordinary wildlife of Asia including two new residents: a Malayan tapir calf and adult Malayan tiger.

Malayan Tapir

The Zoo is home to a breeding pair of tapirs known as "Albert" and "Ubi". On January 30, Ubi gave birth to their second offspring, a male named "Tembikai". With just 35 of these magnificent Malayan mammals in the population managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), every birth is significant.

For the baby's safety and bonding with mother, he will remain off exhibit under the watchful eye of animal care staff for the time being. The pair is not expected to have access to the main habitat for about another month.

Tapirs are among the most primitive large mammals in the world, dating back 20 million years. There are four species of tapir native to Southeast Asia and in Central and South America, all of which are classified as endangered due to ongoing decline. In their native range, Malayan tapirs are found in Burma and Thailand within dense forests, usually near water.

Malayan Tiger

This winter, the Zoo welcomed “Bzui” (pronounced Ba-ZOO-ee), a 9-year-old female Malayan tiger. She is the first female Malayan subspecies to live at the Zoo, arriving on recommendation of the AZA Tiger Species Survival Plan (SSP), designed to support conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction. Later this year she will be paired with a male named “Mata.” Bzui is an experienced mother and has successfully raised several cubs.

The Malayan subspecies of tiger has only been recognized since 2004. They are the smallest in size of all the species of tigers with an average weight of 260 pounds for adult males and 220 pounds for females.

The Malayan tiger is an endangered species with a wild population of only around 500 that live in Thailand and Malaysia. Their numbers are dwindling due to poaching and loss of habitat.

The Asian Gardens habitat area, where the tigers and tapirs are housed, was made possible by funding from the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.

About Zoominations, A Chinese Lantern Festival of Lights

The first of its kind in the Southeastern U.S., a dazzling display of custom-made Chinese lantern structures will illuminate Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo at night from Feb. 28-May 31. Opening at 6 p.m. nightly, guests will discover 30 spectacular scenes representing traditional Chinese dragons and folklore along with larger-than-life replicas of Zoo animals. Anticipated to be one of the largest lantern festivals held in the U.S., Zoominations will also feature performances by Chinese acrobats and an artisan market with unique handmade crafts. Tickets are on sale online at www.TampaLanternFest.org. Also find Zoominations on Facebook.

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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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