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Natural connections, natural stories.

  • The Bond of a Mother & Baby, a message FROM OUR VP OF CONSERVATION

    by Christina Lasso | Jan 11, 2018

    We are so excited to welcome a new Bornean orangutan baby to our Zoo family!  On the morning of Saturday January 6th, Bornean orangutan, DeeDee, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl weighing about three pounds. Dee Dee is quite the experienced mother, already successfully giving birth five times. She is very attentive and even gently pats her baby’s back when she gets fussy.

    The bond between Dee Dee and her baby is so special, it resembles the unbreakable bond between a human mother and a baby. The connection between humans and apes is astounding! Like humans, baby apes are born completely dependent on their mothers and this maternal care continues for many years. For example, Dee Dee’s, nine-year-old daughter Randee, still slept with Dee Dee in her nest at night. With the new baby, Randee has taken a big step to growing up and is now making her own nest. Randee is also closely watching DeeDee and the new baby, this is an important step for her to learn how to be a mother. Orangutan mothers prefer to raise their baby on their own with no help, meaning the care and survival of a baby is solely dependent on them. These moms are the epitome of strength and devotion.

    While we celebrate the arrival of our newest baby, it’s important to reflect on the the perils orangutans face in the wild. Orangutans are losing their homes due to clearcutting for plant palm oil plantations leaving many orangutan babies to lose their mothers which is detrimental as babies can not survive on their own in the wild. Palm oil is an edible oil that is found in everyday items like food, candy, soaps, etc. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has made a great app that helps consumers make smart choices at the grocery store. By downloading the Sustainable Palm Oil App, you can help save orangutans.

    North America is home to only 90 animals in the Bornean Orangutan Species Survival Plan. Each birth is very significant and crucial to the longevity of this precious species. Since DeeDee is such a devoted mother, her contribution to her species goes beyond the five babies she has raised herself, it extends to the five grand babies she has in the SSP population. DeeDee is truly an amazing ambassador to her species and her new daughter is too cute for words!

    We hope that when you see the connection between mother and baby, you will be motivated to become advocates for this incredible species. Every dollar, every visit, every membership truly makes a difference. 

  • 2018 Is For The Birds!

    by Christina Lasso | Jan 10, 2018

    At Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, we celebrate our birds on a daily basis however, 2018 is a very special year for birds! In 2018, we mark the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which is the most powerful and important bird-protection law passed. The statute makes it unlawful without a waiver to pursue, hunt, take, capture, or sell birds listed therein as migratory birds. The statute also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs, and nests. 

    Year of the Bird 1

    In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate 2018 as the “Year of the Bird.” The Year of the Bird will celebrate the wonder of our feathered friends and provide an opportunity for people everywhere to recommit themselves to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years! Through 12 months of storytelling, science, and conservation, The Year of the Bird will examine how our changing environment is driving dramatic losses among bird species around the globe and highlight what we can do help reverse this negative trend.

    Year of the Bird 2

    To honor this year, TLPZ has started a special blog dedicated to highlighting birds at the Zoo and giving our guests ways in which they can make an impact on bird conservation locally, nationally, and globally.

    <center<Year of the Bird 3

    Be sure to check back often for updates! Let’s make this an incredible year for the birds!</center<


    by Christina Lasso | Jan 04, 2018

    Hi Zoo Friends,

    On Dec 1st, we were blessed with an adorable baby pygmy hippo and later we revealed that this little miracle is a baby girl.  Mom Zsa Zsa and calf are doing great - the baby girl has grown from the size of a loaf of bread to the size of a plump little watermelon.  She also has gained confidence and will now run into the pool by herself.  She is keeping her mom busy with her rambunctious ways but Zsa Zsa is an experienced mom and seems to take it all in stride.


    As the VP of Conservation, I have been asked a lot lately why is this birth significant.  When there is an adorable baby in front of you, it is often hard to think about her wild ancestors and what her birth means on a bigger scale for both the Zoo and her species.

    Let me start by saying, Pygmy hippos are both rare and unique.  Pygmy hippos are found in interior forests of West Africa including the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast.  As a shy reclusive species little is known about their habits in the wild.  It is estimated that only around 3,000 are left in the wild and due to rapid habitat loss this species is now considered endangered.

    africa pygmy hippo calf 2 dec 14 2017

    So what does this mean? With such a small surviving population, steps are needed to help protect this species from vanishing.   Researchers in Africa are working hard to learn more about pygmy hippo behavior while also working with the local communities within and around its range to help protect this valuable species and habitat.  At the Zoo, our pygmy hippos are part of a Species Survival Plan that works to preserve this species in zoos and aquariums while also bringing awareness to the conservation needs of this species in the wild.

    You are part of our zoo family, we want you to “ooh and awe” over our new baby girl because we are also excited and amazed by her.  However we also want to connect you in a greater way.   Next week, our baby girl will finally get a name!


    While social media submissions have closed, there’s still time to help name the baby in the following ways:

    1. Adopt a hippo!  Every adoption package helps provide excellent care to our hippo family and helps the Zoo’s Conservation Fund support efforts to protect pygmy hippo in Africa. In addition, you can submit a name with every adoption package you purchase. 
    2. Tampa Zoo friends, you can also submit a name at the Hyde Park Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops store located at 702 S Village Cir, Tampa, FL 33606. Voting at the store ends at 12:00pm on January 7th.

    A name will be randomly selected. We encourage you to keep it “G” and family friendly, bonus points for holiday themed names! The name will be revealed at the Zoo on Monday, January 8 at 11:00a.m. Our friends at Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops will be celebrating with a variety of delicious melon-flavored popsicles. While the baby is strictly nursing, Zsa Zsa, loves melons! 

    Click here for rules and regulations.
  • Rejoice, Reflect & Give Today

    by Christina Lasso | Dec 29, 2017

    As 2017 comes to a close, we are filled with gratitude for our donors, partners, members and friends. We are thankful for our dedicated team who care for over 1,300 animals – even during hurricanes! And, thanks to your continued support, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is an international leader in animal conservation with an incomparable rescue and rehabilitation program. This year we reached new milestones – we have now rescued, rehabilitated and released over 400 manatees, performed groundbreaking veterinary procedures and recently welcomed a rare, endangered baby pygmy hippopotamus! 

    We are excited for future developments taking place at your Zoo and at a global level. The Zoo is committed to protecting Florida species including Florida panthers, manatees, Key deer and black bears. With your contributions, we will be able to bring the future expansion of the Florida Realm to life, which includes:

    • Providing new and upgraded safe-havens for the Florida wildlife in our care, while at the same time bringing them nose-to-nose with guests.
    • Giving the Zoo a greater capacity to rescue, rehabilitate and release more Florida wildlife. With your help, we will create an impact for generations to come! 

    As you ring in the new year, please consider giving the gift of conservation. Critically endangered Florida species need our help and every donation makes a difference. We know we will make you proud with what we accomplish together! 

    Join us in our mission by making a tax deductible gift today
       Support your Zoo

     Or consider joining our annual giving society, Wild Circle
    Learn More About Wild Circle.

    Thank you from all of us at TLPZ - we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!

    Warm Regards,
    Mark G. Haney
    Sr. Vice President & Chief Advancement Officer

  • We Got a Pygmy Hippopotamus For Christmas!

    by Christina Lasso | Dec 05, 2017
    Christmas came early at the Zoo with the birth of a rare baby in an adorable pygmy package! After closely monitoring pregnant pygmy hippo, Zsa Zsa, and singing “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” all through November, an endangered pygmy hippopotamus was born in the early morning on Dec. 1, 2017.


    Weighing in at a whopping 9 lbs., this bundle of Christmas joy weighs about nine pounds. This new addition not only adorable, but incredibly important for the future of this endangered species. According to the IUCN, the Pygmy hippopotamus is listed as an endangered species in its natural environment with less than 3,000 left in the wild.


    “Pygmy hippos are elusive and extremely rare in the wild with only a few thousand thought to be left in the world,” said General Curator, Christ Massaro. “We’re one of only 13 zoos in the United States to care for this elusive and unique species so this birth is especially important for us, and the entire pygmy hippo population.”

    The Zoo plans on announcing the gender of the new addition with a special gender reveal. More news on the name of the calf will be revealed in the coming weeks. You can see the Pygmy hippo calf in its habitat in Ituri Forest located in Safari Africa.


    If you’re feeling low or stressed, we are sure the newest Zoo baby can cure your blues. We mean, have you seen that face?! And if you can’t get enough of the new baby, Pay for a Day and come back the rest of 2017 and 2018 free! To take advantage of this special offer, click here

  • Happy Thanksgiving from TLPZ!

    by Christina Lasso | Nov 22, 2017

    As Thanksgiving is upon us, we gratefully pause to wish you a warm and Happy Thanksgiving. This is a time to gather with those we care about and reflect on what we’re most grateful for. This year, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo continued to evolve into an iconic, world-class wildlife park.  We had an exciting year full of new unforgettable natural connections, signature animal encounters, and entertaining seasonal events. We also just announced our new, wild water adventure, Roaring Springs!

    In addition, to my family and loved ones, I am most grateful for the strides we’ve made in conservation thanks to our dedicated staff and your ongoing generosity. From an upgraded manatee filtration system at the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center to renovations of the Florida region at the Zoo – your continuous support will expand our capacity to provide vital care, rescue and rehabilitation to threatened native wildlife throughout the state. 

    So, thank you for visiting the Zoo – every membership, ticket or in-park purchase makes a difference in our mission of conservation.

    If you’d like to individually donate to the Zoo, please consider including us in your Giving Tuesday contributions. Please visit

    I hope this season is filled with happiness, peace and joy. May your home be filled with love during this wonderful time, Happy Thanksgiving!

    Best wishes,

    Joe Signature

    Joseph A. Couceiro
    President & CEO

  • Insiders Tips to Christmas in the Wild

    by Christina Lasso | Nov 22, 2017
    It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas in the Wild is back at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo for 18 magical nights. The Zoo will be transformed into a winter wonderland with breathtaking lights, delicious holiday treats, festive entertainment and wildlife at night! Christmas in the Wild offers guests of all ages a merry and memorable evening with this unique, yet traditional holiday event. Check out the tips below to make sure you have a jolly good time:

    1. Skip the lines
      Christmas in the Wild will take place Friday and Saturdays November 24-25, December 1-2, 8-10, 15-17, 21-23 and 26-30. The holiday fun is included with Zoo Membership, single-day admission and you can even pay for a day, come back the rest of 2017 & 2018 FREE! If you have family and friends in town for just the night, there’s a special After 4 p.m. ticket available!

    2. Here comes Santa Claus, right down Zoo Boulevard!
      The big guy in red will return to Santa’s Village and is excited to meet all the families of Tampa Bay! As you wait to tell Santa your Christmas wish list, there will be plenty of photo opportunities, drink options and playful elves to keep you entertained!  You can now make text reservations to ensure that you don’t miss jolly St. Nick before he goes back to the North Pole. Visit Santa’s Village upon entering the Zoo to save your spot!

      JOLLY TIP – Zoo Members can meet Santa early from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.!

    3.  Come hungry and satisfy those Christmas cravings!
      When we think of the holidays, one of the first thing that comes to mind is all of the food and treats! The Zoo’s Head Chef, Itza Henderson, has created a menu to satisfy every foodie’s taste buds. Savory dishes include braised short rib with smoked Gouda mac and cheese, to S’mores bacon, to a Holiday burger complete with bacon, cranberry relish, shaved Brussel sprouts, and feta cheese.

      JOLLY TIP – Use a holiday dining plan to sip and taste with ease! A Couples Holiday Sampler comes with 15 points to use and a Friends & Family Sampler comes with 30. If you don’t finish your points in a night, no worries! The holiday dining plan is good all dates of Christmas in the Wild!

    4. Winter Wildlife
      Wildlife will also get into the holiday spirit with special themed activities including Presents for Primates and Ornaments & Elephants. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience an even closer look at our African penguins! All new this year, families will enjoy “Hazel’s Christmas Gift” a holiday themed animal show, featuring our famous animal ambassadors.

      desserts_nov 9 2016
    5. Save room for Christmas cookies and treats!
      For those with a sweet tooth, get ready to indulge in decadent desserts, we’ve got gourmet a selection of hot chocolates, peppermint mousse and deconstructed apple pie. And for those looking to spice up the night a little more, mixologists at the Zoo have created custom cocktails including peppermint martinis, frozen hot chocolate martini and spiked apple cider. Get your appetites ready – you can only taste these dishes at Christmas in the Wild!

    6. 'Tis the season of giving
      Don’t stress about what to get your loved ones this holiday season and avoid the crowded malls! Get all of your shopping done at the Zoo! Give your family and friends a gift that keeps on giving - a Zoo membership which includes unlimited trips to the Zoo all year long and many other benefits. How about a memory to last a lifetime? Schedule a nose-to-horn rhino encounter, or an Aldabra tortoise encounter or even a behind-the-scenes tour! Other one-of-a-kind gifts include personalized ornaments, art painted by penguins and elephants, and much more! 

    7. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
      Christmas in the Wild offers all types of dazzling entertainment. This year, we have a bigger and brighter 50-foot animated Christmas tree complete with 12,000 dancing lights, 2,000 ornaments, an 8-ft star, and a fabulous light show that runs every 30 minutes! Enjoy the merry sounds from a school choir and carolers dressed in Dickens era costumes performing traditional classics as well as contemporary favorites. Other holiday themed areas include Holiday Hoedown, Polar Paradise and Candy Cane Lane where you can see a festive performance from the candy cane girls! You can also get cozy with Mrs. Claus for holiday story time! 

    8. Ditch the Sleigh! Carpool, Uber, Lyft or taxi your way to the Zoo
      Parking for this event is free but may fill up fast. Save the time and hassle of parking 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. Follow Twitter for Updates!
      Make sure you’re following the Zoo’s Twitter account (@Lowryparkzoo) for the inside scoop on parking, event schedules and more! 

    10. Come early and stay late!
      There will be plenty of activities to do and see at Christmas in the Wild! Make sure you arrive early and beat the crowds to experience all of the holiday magic before anyone else and feel like a true insider!
  • Being “Green” is More Than Just a Christmas Color

    by Christina Lasso | Nov 17, 2017

    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…and Thanksgiving is right around the corner! It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, but a few easy changes can reduce our environmental impact while we celebrate.  On average American families generate 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.  Here are some simple ideas that can help us be “evergreen” this season.  

    Setting the perfect table

    • Wow your guests!  Use nice China, glassware and real silverware to help keep plastics out of landfills. Avoid single use plastics (cups, plates, and utensils) during holiday gatherings. Santa will give you extra presents for filling the dishwasher to capacity!
    • Get fancy and use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins
    • Eat by candlelight, use soy or vegetable wax candles to decorate your table and create a beautiful ambience.
    • For table decorations fill clear vases with acorns, leaves and pinecones!

    turkey stuffing green beans_nov 9 2016​​

    Eating your greens and being green!

    • Buy local and decrease your environmental impact. Don’t forget your veggies!
    • Shop wisely for dinner! Did you know you only need ¼ of green beans per person? 
    • Compost your food scraps
    • Store leftovers in reusable containers and avoid single use plastics
    • If you do have lots of leftovers, donating them to local food banks is a wonderful option. 


    O' Christmas Tree

    • Buy an artificial tree that can be used year after year! If you do get a living tree, plant it after the holidays. 
    • Use LED lighting for tree and holiday decorations because LED lighting is more energy efficient.  Putting lights on a timer is also a good way to save energy.
    • Use natural materials to decorate your tree, like pine cones and popcorn! 

    Get Crafty

    • Make sure to use reusable cloth bags when both grocery shopping and gift shopping. You’ll be everyone’s favorite by using reusable bags as actual gift bags.
    • Buy environmentally friendly gifts.  There are many great options out there both in local markets and online
    • Consider rechargeable batteries when needed for electronics purchases 
    • Not all gifts have to be tangible, people love thoughtful gifts! What’s more thoughtful than a ticket or membership to the Zoo? In addition to gifting your loved ones unforgettable memories, every ticket and membership supports our conservation efforts! 

    The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends.  By being smart consumers we can also celebrate the environment and be good stewards to our animal friends that share our planet.

    Happy Holidays!!!
    Lee Ann Rottman
    VP, Conservation

  • ‘Tis the Season for Wild Holiday Parties at TLPZ

    by Christina Lasso | Nov 16, 2017
    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which means holiday parties! Gone are the days of bare and boring banquets halls, get ready to deck the halls by hosting a party at Tampa’s most unique setting surrounded by the magic and enchantment of wildlife! The Zoo will be brimming with beautiful décor and thousands of twinkling lights.  It’s not too late to book a charming holiday party your colleagues will always remember. 

    Only at TLPZ can guests experience an animal encounter while they relax after a long year of hard work. From exclusive animal mingles to private Behind the Scenes tours, our animal care team will ensure party goers have a connection to wildlife and each other. Attendees can meet a sloth or get nose-to-horn with an Indian rhino during your party!


    Picture your colleagues sipping cocktails among African elephants in our breathtaking Savanna Reserve or mingling and chatting in the lush Asia Gardens overseeing Malayan tigers. The Zoo has various locations, floor plans and layouts to suit all types of parties. You can even bring decorations to really deck out your party!

    Manatee Tunnel Reception

    From Cuban delicacies inspired by Tampa’s rich history to sustainable and sumptuous seafood options from Florida’s Nature Coast – the Zoo offers menus to delight all the foodies in your company.  The Zoo’s award- winning Head Chef, Itza Henderson, will personally curate a menu that’s one of a kind. Special holiday touches can also be added to dishes to make your event even merrier!

    CITW Menu 2017-0104

    In addition to a merry and memorable party, your guests can play at the Zoo during the day and then experience Christmas in the Wild after 4 PM! Guests can enjoy enchanting entertainment and a 50-foot animated Christmas tree with dancing lights! Party attendees can visit the big guy in red in a whimsical village complete with playful elves. Learn more about Christmas in the Wild HERE.


    Let us do the hard work! As an escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, our talented events team will make the planning process stress-free. Our team is here to ensure your party is seamless and polished. 

    To book your holiday party, email
  • November: Sweater Weather and Manatee Awareness Month

    by Christina Lasso | Nov 01, 2017

    November is Manatee Awareness Month! Every year we get the chance to show our appreciation for the gentle sea cows that call the Florida coast line home. 

    Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo takes part in rescue and rehabilitation efforts to help keep our marine friends numbers afloat. There are natural threats, however manatees will more often be injured by boat collisions, loose fishing gear, or ingesting trash in the waters. Since 1991, the David A. Straz Jr, Manatee Critical Care Center has provided critical care to over 400 Florida manatees. 


    The critical care center is the first of its kind and is currently undergoing renovations to better serve the sea giants that need our aid! The water filtration system is being upgraded to provide a better life support system to help provide advanced, specialized care to these mammals. While this renovation takes place, The Zoo’s veterinary team is providing critical care at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and will be continuing our efforts to care for manatees. 

    florida boardwalk manatee shamrock prerelease work up jun 3 2016 (11) - RESIZED

    We remain steadfast in our continued commitment to care for manatees and all of Florida wildlife.

  • A Special Halloween Message from our VP of Conservation, Leeann Rottman

    by Christina Lasso | Oct 26, 2017

    Happy Halloween boos and ghouls! As we get ready for trick or treating next week, it is important to not only wear our Halloween hats but also our conservation hat.  What you might not know is that Orangutans in the wild are losing their rainforest homes due to clearcutting to plant palm oil plantations. Clearing rainforests to grow palm oil trees destroys critical habitat and has pushed some animals to the brink of extinction.

    What is Palm oil? It is an edible oil that is found in many of the foods we eat, including some Halloween candy.  Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the African oil palm tree. It easily blends with other ingredients, acts as a preservative, and is tasteless. Palm oil is used for cooking, and is added to many products like soaps, cosmetics, ice cream, cookies, chocolate, and frozen meals. About half of all packaged goods sold in US or European grocery stores contain palm oil.

    Some companies are using sustainable palm oil and some are not.  Not only do many everyday products contain palm oil, sometimes it is listed under a completely different name on the ingredients label. As consumers, we can use our buying power to encourage companies to use only sustainable palm oil. To help us buy wisely, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has made a great app that helps consumers make smart choice at the grocery store to help save orangutans and many of the other animals that share their home.  So please down load the app so that you can enjoy Halloween and help save orangutans at the same time.

    tlpz_creatures of the night (9)

    Also, as you are trick or treating at the zoo or around your neighborhood please remember to pick up your candy wrappers.  The wrappers are dangerous to both our zoo animals and native wildlife. So be mindful, be safe and look out for ghosts! 

  • 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. 


    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. 


    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.


    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. 


    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). 

  • 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. 

    outreach eastern indigo snake onyx scales sep 13 2016

    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.


    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.

    outreach eastern indigo snake onyx sep 13 2016 - RESIZED

    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!

    asia komodo dragon aanjay full feb 4 2016

     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.

    asia komodo dragon aanjay 1 aug 13 2016

    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.

    asia komodo dragon max 2013 (7)

    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! 


    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! 


    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! 


    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.

    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!


    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!


    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.


    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. 


    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!


    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!


    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.


    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.

    Zoo School-0012

    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!

    Photo May 26, 2 02 27 PM

    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!

  • Tampa Bay City Pass
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums
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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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