Ever since we’ve been planning our Tampa trip we’ve been excited to be visiting the Lowry Park Zoo because we’ve read some good reviews of the zoo and the variety of creatures they housed.
The Zoo is a five-time winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence (as of 2015) and is one of the most popular zoos in the southeastern USA.
It was located only a short 10 minutes from the AirBnB home we are renting so we got there right at the opening so we could enjoy a full day and it certainly was an awesome morning, sunny and the forecast was for a warming day!
We used our City Passes to get a discount on the price of admission and once inside sat with our maps near the big Manatee Statue fountain and planned our walk through the park.
The Zoo emphasizes endangered, threatened and vulnerable species from climates similar to that of the Tampa Bay region, with park areas devoted to Asia, Africa, Australia and Florida. The zoo is well mapped out and the exhibits were all laid out in a nice way. We decided to start with a clockwise trek and began the adventure.
We started in the Asian Gardens, through the main stone gate where you really feel like you’re entering a far Eastern oasis in deep Asia jungles. The Tapir was so beautiful with that amazing two-color coat, and the long pointy saw-nosed Gharials were some strange relatives of alligators! The tiger cub was with her mama and we could hear the papa tiger roaring from his cage. The adult mother and father tiger had to take turns with one-on-one time with the cub to prevent any aggressive behavior we were told.
After Asia we went through the Florida habitat and saw some wild Florida cats and my favorite spot was the Manatees! The zoo is actually the home of the Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center so it goes beyond a zoo by making advances on critical care for injured, sick, and orphaned wild manatees through the Zoo’s Manatee Hospital. It is the only non-profit, acute care facility in the world specifically dedicated to critical care for injured, sick, and orphaned wild manatees, and one of just three federally permitted manatee rehabilitation facilities in Florida. I love watching those big sea cows drifting peacfully through the water. The viewing room is awesome and the large tank gave us a great view of the manatees munching on heads of lettuce.
After the Manatees we went to see the Primates. The Orangutans were amazing and there were a few of them wearing yellow t-shirts and because the sun was so hot they would pull the t-shirts over their heads to make some shade and keep cool. There was a wee baby and they were climbing all over a huge jungle-gym and were quite entertaining. The chimpanzees were nice too and of course the Colobus were one of our faves because we have some back home at the Magnetic Hill Zoo. The Colobus at Lowry Zoo have a spectacular area to live with a nice pool and there were a nice family of them grooming and just sunbathing. We watched with our bincoulars for half an hour!
The African exhibit was pretty mind-blowing too! The viewing areas give really good sight-lines and we saw elephants, zebras, meerkats, white rhinos, cheetahs, pygmy hippos, okapi, African penguins and much more! We took the little safari train around the African area and it was a nice little train trip seeing the huge animals and the various types of giraffes.
We took a ride on one of the kiddie-roller-coasters just for fun! We were the only two on the ride besides a little kid who must have wondered what we were screaming about! I felt safer in the big rides at Busch Gardens and the rickety roller coaster was quite the thrill!
After that we passed through Wallaroo Station where the Koalas and Wallabys were lounging about. We got up close and personal with the friendly wallabys.
One other cool thing we saw was the black bears who ahd a habitat that was built near a pond and as we were crossing the bridge over the bear area we saw that their pond was full of huge koi fish! I would have thought the koi would be gobbled up by the bears but to our utter dis-belief the bears were swimming with the koi fish as if they were best friends! Amazing!
The zoo was super-clean and really had a great layout, it wasn’t too busy and we both thought it was the nicest zoo we had ever been to together. We would recommend it as a must-see place in Tampa and a full day is probably not even enough….next time I would go twice because you can usually see different animals at different times of the day so going more than once usually makes for unique views and photo opportunities.
The Lowry Park Zoo Official Website: http://www.lowryparkzoo.org