At the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa it’s all about the animals. The zoo sits on 56 acres that are covered with the natural habitats of more than 1,700 animals, each of them are suited for our local climate and they are used to living in Florida’s heat and humidity. They have eight habitat areas that include Asia, Australia and Africa. Some have interactive exhibits where visitors can enjoy close, safe contact with many of their animals. You can feed a giraffe, string ray or rhino or take a camel ride and in their aviaries the birds fly free and may land right on you.
Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center
The Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center at the Lowry Park Zoo is one of only a few places in the state of Florida that takes in Manatees that have been either injured or orphaned. The Miami Zoo has a program like this too but unlike Miami, which only takes in Manatee from the east coast of Florida, the Lowry Park Zoo takes recues from Key West through the coast of Texas, to date the hospital has taken in and cared for over 250 manatees. Many of these manatees are delivered to the zoo by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; they are the people to call should you come across a manatee in distress.
The Florida Boardwalk
The Florida Boardwalk is the exhibit that focuses on the diverse native Florida wildlife. This boardwalk takes you past the homes of several of Florida’s endangered and threatened species like the Bald Eagle, Key Deer and Florida Panthers; other Florida favorites like the American Alligator, American Crocodile, Caribbean Flamingo, Florida Black Bear, Gopher Tortoise, Wild Turkey and Sandhill Crane also have their homes in this exhibit and it’s where you can feed the Cownose Stingray. Lowry Park Zoo has the most comprehensive collection of Florida Species in the World.
From time to time the zoo has a special exhibit like the one currently there called DinoQuest, it was slated to close at the end of April but has been extended until May 9. This exhibit features 20 life sized animatronic dinosaurs like the huge Tyrannosaurus Rex, the ferocious Dilophosaurus and the long necked Brachiosaurus. They have a dino dig where kids can dig up their own fossils and a dino park where they can slide down the Velocity Raptor Slide. They offer dino education programs where you can discover everything about your favorite dinosaur from what they ate to when they lived and they give kids a chance to spend the night at the zoo enjoying the exhibit, they call it Dino Nites.
Like I said, at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo it’s all about the animals and it shows. They care for their animals while not getting any funding from the government, you see Lowry Park is a non profit zoo, they rely on the community and private donations to continue. It is a wonderful place not only to see animals but to really interact with them and hopefully, when you leave have a better understanding and an enduring appreciation for them.
Originally Published on April 15th, 2011