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Natural connections, natural stories.

  • Manatee Rescue in Safety Harbor

    by Christina Lasso | Oct 20, 2017

    On Monday, October 2nd, Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ray Ball was called onsite from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to assess the health of a manatee in Safety Harbor. The manatee was found with a crab trap caught around her flipper. 

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    A health assessment was performed and photos were taken for documentation. The FWC keeps a record of all manatees rescued, rehabbed and released for research and to track these manatees if they require critical care again. 

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    First, Dr. Ball needed to evaluate if the manatee needed to be transported to the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center at the Zoo. Thanks to additional resources provided by the McCune Family Foundation, The McCann Foundation, and the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF), it was possible to evaluate a blood sample in the field and check for anemia. Thankfully, the blood sample revealed she was perfectly healthy and simply needed that crab trap off her flipper. A complete blood analysis performed later at the Catherine Straz Veterinary Hospital at TLPZ also confirmed this manatee to indeed be very fit.

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    After assessing her flipper, it was determined that amputation was the best solution for the welfare of this manatee. We know what you’re thinking, how can a manatee survive without a flipper? Manatees are extremely resilient and can actually survive with one flipper. There is even documentation of manatees in the wild without flippers. 

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    Thanks to the great efforts from FWC, TLPZ and volunteers, this manatee was released back to Florida waters. TLPZ is always working to help wildlife in need - especially Florida’s rare native animals. Intervention in the field is yet another way we fulfill our mission to protect Florida wildlife. We pride ourselves in our efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release manatees at the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center with over 400 manatees cared for to date.  

    If you see distressed or injured manatees, please call the FWC hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). 

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  • Spooky Spotlight

    by Christina Lasso | Oct 16, 2017

    It’s time to shine a spooky spotlight on one of our favorite lengthy reptiles, the eastern indigo snake! The eastern indigo is a black snake that has glossy skin that appears blackish-purple in the light. 

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    Floridians are some of the most likely to see an eastern indigo as this species is native to Southeast United States. Don’t be nervous! The eastern indigo is by far not the scariest reptile that could cross your path. They are nonvenomous and have a strong role in their ecosystem as one of the few predators of venomous snakes.

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    Despite their important role in our ecosystem, the eastern indigo is listed as threatened on both federal and the Florida Conservation lists. Eastern indigos can live in a variety of habitats, however habitat loss remains their biggest threat in the wild. TLPZ participates in the Species Survival Plan for eastern indigo snakes in order to preserve this snake for future generations.

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    You have the opportunity to see an eastern Indigo at the Zoo during Creatures of the Night, as they are one of our animal ambassadors!

    Slither on friends!

  • Eating with Dragons?

    by Christina Lasso | Oct 07, 2017
    As part of Creatures of the Night, we are spotlighting animals that are perceived as scary and creepy. Don’t let their looks fool you, these animals are VERY cool and fascinating. To kick-off our series, meet Aanjay! One of our very own komodo dragons here at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. Komodo dragons are the largest lizards on Earth, an adult male can grow up to be 8 feet long and in some cases adult males can grow to 12 feet!

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     Komodo Dragons are an endangered species; they are in severe danger in their natural environment due to hunting, habitat loss and a shortage of prey. These threats have led to population declines on the few Indonesian islands where they are found.

    Young komodo dragons live in trees to avoid becoming prey to older members of the species. They are also much smaller and more sinuous than the adults, allowing them to live in trees. At 8 months, they grow too large to be arboreal and must alter their diet to become terrestrial.

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    An adult komodo dragon diet consists of a variety of large prey including deer, pigs, goats and horses. Komodo dragons normally get their exercise through feeding. Here at the Zoo, we pace out their calories so it comes to them in one big meal. Mice and chicks are fed to them for about a month, food is hidden in a leaf litter placed on top of a branch to encourage them to move around and scavenge throughout the day.

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    Check out our select komodo carcass feeding times during Creatures of the Night to watch how we feed these gigantic lizards!

    Disclaimer: This is the only gore at Creatures of the Night, we will be hanging deer ribs and horse meat in their habitat. You'll be able to watch the komodo dragon as they slowly enjoys their meal.
  • Insider's Guide to Creatures of the Night

    by Christina Lasso | Oct 05, 2017

    Creatures of the Night returns with more scares and spooky frights at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. The Zoo will once again transform into an eerie and immersive Halloween adventure with bigger and better events for ghouls and goblins of all ages. On Fridays and Saturdays from October 6-28, the Zoo stays open late and animals lurk in the night until 10 p.m. with a wide-range of Halloween-themed activities sure to have everyone howling at the moon. Check out these spook-tacular tips to make a tremendous night of fun! 

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    1. No horror or gore, just fun frights!

      This event is family friendly, there are no gory creature’s just spooks and startles for all. Creatures of the Night does not include haunted houses but will debut a new scare zone experience and some of last year’s eerie, frightful favorites will return. Older kids, pre-teens and adults will have the chance to encounter an all-new scare zone, “Whispering Woods” - a frightful forest with a thirst for souls, visitors can enter, but may never...leaf!

    2. Have a head start on trick-or-treating.

      There’s a special sanctuary set aside for little “boos” and “ghouls” when Wallaroo Station transforms into “Pumpkin Palooza” - a festive fall harvest complete with a pumpkin patch, scarecrows, friendly farm animals and trick or treating. A sweet thank you to our boo-rific sponsors Tampa International Airport, After Hours Pediatric Urgent Care, Power Crunch and Land Rover Tampa!

    3. Dress up with us!
      Boos and ghouls of all ages are invited to arrive in their most spooktacular attire, animal costumes are encouraged as well!​ This is a family affair, keep it G! 

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    4. Get ready to feast like beasts.
      The foodie favorite, “Beast Burger” returns with a twist this year, bigger and spicier than last year as the “Revenge of the Beast Burger” makes its debut. Brave souls who conquer the “Revenge of the Beast Burger” will have their photos taken and put on our Wall of Fame to commemorate their win! 

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    5. Pumpkin Spice and everything nice.
      For those who love all things pumpkin, the Zoo will introduce a plethora of “pumpkin spice” inspired dishes such as fried pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread a la mode, pumpkin parfait and more at the brand-new Pumpkin Spice Cafe. The Zoo’s new Beer & Wine Garden provides an entertaining retreat for older goblins from the Halloween hoopla.

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    6. The animals come alive at night!

      As the sun goes down, get a glimpse into the nighttime habits of animal residents and discover which nocturnal creatures are most active. Our animals have been carefully and safely acclimated so that habitats in the Asian and African realms of the zoo, along with Primate World, are illuminated for night viewing. We are showing an ALL NEW Halloween themed, animal show, “Knock Knock: Trick-or-Treating with the Animals,” featuring our famous brand ambassadors.

    7. Elephants and orangutans are having a smashing, good time!

      In addition to special animal mingles, experience special Halloween-themed enrichment only at Creatures of the Night including elephant pumpkin smash, bat and orangutan animal care chat

    8. Freaky Friday’s.
      The Fun lasts all weekend, but arrive to the Zoo early on Friday’s for optimal parking, shorter lines and minimal crowd. Become your own insider and experience all the Halloween adventures we have to offer before anyone else!

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    9. Ditch the broomstick, Uber or carpool instead!

      Parking for this event is free but may fill up fast, we recommend carpooling and checking our Twitter account (@lowryparkzoo) for parking updates! Or save time by having your Uber or Lyft 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.

    10. Stay until the bewitching hour of 10pm!
      The entre night is a scary, good time! As the night progresses, things become a little bit spookier. Will you dare to walk the Whispering Woods at dusk? And you won’t want to miss our Monsters on Parade and Thrilling Finale!
  • We Are Florida Strong

    by Christina Lasso | Sep 25, 2017

    In the wake of Hurricane Irma, we hope you and your loved ones are doing well. The Zoo sustained minimal damage from the storm thanks to the dedication and efforts of our team. To put some perspective to the detailed and careful planning that took place, our hurricane preparations included:

    • 1,300+ animals, all sheltering inside!
    • 16 Zoo team members on-site
      • 9 animal care professionals
      • 5 maintenance and security experts
      • 2 veterinarians
    • 2+ week supply of food
      • 28,000 lbs of hay
      • 20 cases of Romaine lettuce
      • 1,000+ apples
      • 100 lbs of carrots
      • 150 lbs of sweet potatoes
      • 6 cases of bananas
      • 5 cases of Eucalyptus
      • 10,000 gallons of water
    • Multiple generators to restore power
    • Endless amounts of strength and hope!

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    The welfare of our animals is a priority and that shined through during Hurricane Irma where our ride-out team left their own homes and families to care for our animals. Countless other staff members worked tirelessly preparing before the storm, and getting us ready to safely reopen to guests afterwards.  I am immensely grateful for the selfless acts of each individual zoo team member.

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    Now we are here and ready to help our community as well as any of our other zoo and aquarium friends in Florida that need extra hands to clean habitats or care for animals. Together, we are Florida Strong.

    Warm regards,

    Joe Signature 
    Joseph A. Couceiro
    President & CEO

  • Pascow & Cotee Update

    by Christina Lasso | Jul 06, 2017
    Remember Pascow and Cotee? After a heroic rescue in New Port Richey, the manatee mom and calf have been recovering at the David A. Straz Jr, Manatee Critical Care Center.

    Watch this update from Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Lauren Smith, to learn more:



    Be sure to check our Facebook, Twitter & Instagram for their upcoming release!
  • Camp from a Camp Counselor

    by Christina Lasso | Jun 20, 2017
    A counselor of Zoo School Summer Camp, Sam, wrote a special blog on his experience as a Zoo Camp Counselor.

    Summer camp isn't only fun for the campers at the Zoo, it's just as fun for me! The weeks are filled with animal encounters, arts & crafts, water play, games, creating enrichment items for the animals and more. I've been a counselor at the Zoo for 3 years now and each year just gets better and better. 

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    Every camp is specifically themed, which means I can create a different adventure each week. I really enjoy seeing the campers joy everyday and that they are so invested in the camps. They're always excited to see what our day entails. Is it a tortoise encounter? Feeding the lorikeets? A rhino encounter? It's a surprise!

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    Being with the campers reminds me of myself going to summer camps. I still cherish those memories and I want to pass that on to these kids. I looked up to my camp counselors and it's really rewarding to the same sort of look in my direction. It's my mission to educate the campers and help create the next generation of conservationists, while having all the summer fun of course!

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    It's even pretty cool when their parents come up to me and express gratitude. With camps now being inclusive with lunch and before & after care, I see the relief on the parents' faces more than ever. Summer camp is meant to fun for the kids (and counselors!) and easy for the parents. 
  • Parents Love Zoo Camp Too!

    by Christina Lasso | Jun 07, 2017
    A parent of resident Zoo School Summer campers, Ms. Dana, wrote a special blog on her experience with Zoo camps.

    My sons have been attending camps at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo for the past 8 years.  They just love coming back year after year. The experiences have always been fresh and fun at every age level.



     As younger campers, they enjoyed animal art camps, animal photography camps, and had many animal encounters both in the zoo and in their classrooms. As they got older, the opportunities grew and they were able to experience animal training and try out what it means to be part of the Animal Care Staff in the zoo. They were even able to work inside some of the animal habitats!

    I love all of the hands-on and interactive experiences they have had at Zoo camp. They are active every day and always come home with interesting stories about what they saw and did at the Zoo. I have watched their self confidence grow through all these camp experiences.

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    Another aspect of Zoo Camp that I appreciate is that the counselors are certified teachers. Not only is camp fun, but the counselors also teach them so much about the animals at the zoo, the environment and how we can all help with saving species from manatees to African elephants.

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    Something new this summer is that the Zoo Camps are going to include before and aftercare which will give me a lot more flexibility for drop off and pick up time. Also with lunch bring included it is one less thing I need to get done in the morning which will help make summer feel more relaxed.

    Zoo Camps are an amazing experience and our family enjoys being able to visit the Zoo with them. It is great that a ticket to visit the Zoo again is included in camps. My boys love being teachers to me and I love learning facts about the Zoo from them. There's really no losing with Zoo Summer camp!
  • My Day at Zoo Camp

    by Christina Lasso | Jun 01, 2017

    A resident Zoo School Summer camper, Tiare, wrote a special blog on her time here at camp. 

    Did you know that an exoskeleton supports and protects an animal's body? Or that snakes don't eat everyday? These are only some of the things I learned at Zoo Camp at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. Not only do you learn so much at TPLZ, but it's so much fun!

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    Do you know what an Indian Rhino feels like? I do. My favorite thing about summer camp at the Zoo is the animal encounters. I actually got to touch a Rhino and feel its horn! They were a little bit slobbery, but that's fine it was so awesome. That’s not something that I will forget any time soon. You can also feed the giraffes and the stingrays! The stingrays are so cool, and slimy.

    There are so many activities in Zoo Camp. Everyday you make a different craft related to what you are learning that day. You also make animal enrichment activities and watch the animals play with it, or eat it. Speaking of eating, there’s yummy free lunch! You never get bored because in between animal encounters and walking around the park, there are games, like Uno, you can play.


    Asia, Africa, Australia, and Florida - you can see the world in a week, at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. You can learn about different animals from those parts of the world. I love getting on the tram and being on safari in Africa. And you can splash around in Wallaroo Station!

    Zoo Camp was so much fun - everyone should go! And it was great not seeing my Mom stress out over picking us up because of free after care! It's a win-win!

  • A Mother's Fight For Her Calf

    by Christina Lasso | May 12, 2017

    A mother manatee and calf were rescued from a canal on Wednesday, May 10. After repairs to a culvert cut off their access to the Pithlachascotee River, the manatees were immediately taken to the Zoo for critical care and rehabilitation. Despite the mother’s extensive injuries, she managed to nurse for her 1-month-old calf against all odds.

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    Her tail was sliced by a boat propeller creating deep gashes. The photo below may be disturbing to some readers, but they show the reality for many manatees struck by boat propellers in local waterways.

    Manatee Mom Tail

    Despite the severe injuries on her tail, the mother manatee continues to care for her calf. The Zoo’s veterinary team will continue to assess her health and help determine appropriate next steps for rehabilitation. While the condition of the two manatees is stable, the Zoo will keep a close eye on both animals for any changes in behavior that could signal other health concerns. 

    “We are relieved that we reached the mother and calf before their condition worsened,” said Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ray Ball, director of medical sciences. “While we celebrate the recovery of the Florida manatee species, we must also be mindful that means there is an increasing number of manatees in our oceans and waterways. Unfortunately, we can anticipate seeing more cases like this until boaters become more mindful and begin to self-report when accidents occur.”  

    Over the Mother’s Day weekend and for the foreseeable future, the mother and calf will remain at the Zoo’s David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital, where they will be provided with exceptional veterinary care as they recover. The hospital is one of only a few manatee care centers in the state specifically dedicated to helping manatees brought in by boat strikes, cold stress, red tide, and entanglement in fishing lines and/or crab traps. To date, more than 400 manatees have been treated at the Zoo. 

    While manatee numbers are increasing, we may continue to see more boat strike related injuries and death. To get more real-time updates and stories, like this one, follow our Facebook and Instagram



    Join our mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release manatees -- click here to donate. 

  • Caring for our Aging Animals – Geriatric and End of Life Care at the Zoo

    by Christina Lasso | May 05, 2017

    Today our Zoo family is deeply saddened as we say a respectful goodbye to Gahiji, our geriatric South African cheetah who was living in hospice care. Nearly 12 years old, Gahiji was the Zoo’s last cheetah. His attentive caregivers provided him daily support and medication to help ease discomforts from age-related ailments as he reached what is old age for cheetahs that have an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.

    Gahiji came to live at Lowry Park Zoo in 2007 from the Smithsonian Institute’s National Zoo, as a recommendation by the AZA Cheetah SSP Program to hold male cheetahs in support of this species conservation efforts in North America. While here he helped teach a countless number of visitors about his species, which is the fastest land animal and is listed by IUCN as vulnerable due to human conflict and loss of habitat.

    End of life decisions for Zoo animals are extremely difficult, because we care so much about each animal here. Just like providing proper care for pets that eventually face health challenges, on occasion the Zoo’s animal care team must make the difficult decision to euthanize an animal whose quality of life is severely diminished. Euthanasia is considered when caretakers feel the animal no longer meets the Zoo’s quality of life parameters. These decisions are extensively assessed and involve everyone who takes care of the individual animal. All possible treatment options are discussed and considered. If caretakers and veterinarians agree they can no longer provide the animal with a good quality of life, the next step is humane euthanasia.

    Accredited zoos and aquariums across the country are continually evaluating and advancing animal care and veterinary practices to help ensure our animals in our care experience the best quality of life. As a result, animals living in zoos are living longer than ever before, and in many cases, will outlive their counterparts in nature.  

    In the wild, older animals often become slower. This leads to them becoming the target of predators and less effective at securing food. Animals in the care of accredited zoos are free from these challenges, and can live longer. We join other zoos in continually advancing the science of animal care to help manage age-related ailments and ensure that our animals live comfortably.

    “Our staff works with these animals everyday and develops a very strong bond with them which makes it hard to arrive at such a difficult decision,” said Dr. Ray Ball, director of medical sciences, “But we have the utmost respect for these animals and don’t want to prolong their lives for our sake if they are no longer living a healthy and fulfilling life.”

    While caring for older animals can be challenging, our Zoo team is proud to create a safe and welcoming home for every animal here. We will continue to seek treatments and unique training techniques that allow even our oldest animals to live a long and comfortable life.

  • 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!
    Bryner Engagement Shoot Tampa Lowry Park Zoo-139604

    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?
  • Tampa Bay City Pass
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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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