The City of Tampa opened and maintained a zoo at Plant Park on the grounds of the University of Tampa. The animals in their care were primarily indigenous animals, such as raccoons, alligators, and an aviary of exotic birds.
Mayor Nick Nuccio moved the Tampa City Zoo to Lowry Park, where it was maintained by Tampa’s Parks Department. The Zoo shared the park with Fairyland.
As the animal population continued to grow through the 1970s, the need to upgrade the habitats and present the animals in natural settings became an issue fully embraced by the Tampa Bay community, which resulted in the formation of an organization dedicated to building a first-class zoological garden.
The Tampa Parks Department and Citizens Advisory Board call for zoo improvements. The Lowry Park Zoo Association formed at the suggestion of the Tampa Parks Department, Mayor Bob Martinez, and private citizens who shared a common vision. Its mission was to raise awareness of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and promote a public-private partnership to fund the renaissance of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. Soon after, the Zoo Association embarked on a $20 million capital campaign, and the City of Tampa committed $8 million.
The Lowry Park Zoo Association formed at the suggestion of the Tampa Parks Department, Mayor Bob Martinez, and private citizens who shared a common vision.
The Zoo Board of Directors developed a comprehensive 24-acre Zoo master plan.
The Zoo Association became the Lowry Park Zoological Society of Tampa, Inc, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the management and ongoing development of a superior zoological garden. The Zoo re-opened on March 5, 1988 with a Free-Flight Aviary, Asian Domain, Primate World and the Children’s Village/Petting Zoo.
The Zoo received accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The Florida Wildlife Center opened (now known as Mason M. and Charles P. Lykes Florida Wildlife Center).
The Manatee and Aquatic Center opened (home to the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center).
Saunders Pavilion, a 10,000-square-foot structure, was constructed to provide an area for meeting and banquet facilities, educational programs, and special exhibitions.
The Zoo made history by becoming the highest attended non-profit zoo in Florida.
A 1,500-square-foot interactive area was built featuring hands-on displays, exhibits, artifacts, videos and a small insect zoo. An adjoining amphitheater, the Saunders Conservation Theater, was later added for the Zoo’s “Reptile Encounter” programs; and a “Birds of Prey” ZooVentures amphitheater was constructed to allow visitors to soar with a variety of owls, hawks, eagles and falcons.
The Zoo added a jungle carousel, presented by The Lowry Murphey Family Foundation, featuring 33 handcrafted figures of animals that take kids on a whimsical wildlife adventure.
The Florida Environmental Education Center, “Zoo School,” opened on the area once occupied by Fairyland.
Wallaroo Station, an Australian-themed area for young children and families opened.
The first phase of “Safari Africa” opened in May. The Zoo expansion created the current 61 acre site.
The State of Florida formally recognized the Zoo as a center for biodiversity and conservation.
The Zoo opened the first phase of Africa – the largest realm opening since ZooTampa reopened its doors in 1988.
The Zoo introduced a new behind-the-scenes Safari Ride called Expedition Africa, a guided tour of the Africa habitat area.
For the fiscal year ending September 2006, and for the first time in the Zoo’s history, ZooTampa exceeded one million visitors.
Several notable additions were made to better serve the record number of visitors: a collection of five new habitats known as the Ituri Forest within Africa; a colony of African penguins in a new year-round outdoor habitat called Penguin Beach; and a newly remodeled Asian Gardens area.
The Bank of America Safari Lodge, today known as the Savanna Oasis, opened.
Parents magazine, the nation’s leading parenting magazine with a community of 15 million readers, named ZooTampa at Lowry Park the best Zoo for kids in its first ever “10 Best Zoos” survey.
A milestone was reached at the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center, having taken in more than 300 manatees since 1991.
The Zoo is named Nonprofit of the Year (Environment and Animals), by Tampa Bay Business Journals.
The 12,000 square foot Catherine Lowry Straz Veterinary Hospital and 2,000 square foot Animal Commissary were completed.
A 2-year graduate clinical fellowship was established with the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, combining clinical training in zoological and aquatic medicine with graduate study in manatee health and conservation.
The Zoo was awarded the Edward H. Bean Award (African bush elephant program) by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), as well as the Travelers’ Choice™ award and Certificate of Excellence award from TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site.
The Catherine Lowry Straz Veterinary Hospital became the first ever zoo hospital to receive American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accreditation.
Renovation was completed at Wallaroo Station – a 4.5-acre Australian-themed, family-friendly park area that includes an interactive petting zoo, water play area, and delicious dining.
New seasonal events, like Creatures of the Night & Christmas in the Wild, were introduced to bring the holidays to another level for families to enjoy.
The Zoo opened the Jacarlene Animal Care Campus featuring the Catherine Lowry Straz Veterinary Hospital and the Tiedemann-Cotton Animal Care Annex.
The Zoo redefined its Vision, Mission, and Brand for the future and a new logo was introduced: ZooTampa at Lowry Park. The Zoo began modernizing the Florida pathways with the opening of Roaring Springs.
An all-new water adventure ride was announced – Roaring Springs! This marked the first phase of the Florida realm’s full refurbishment, complete with an updated Florida panther habitat, updated water habitats & more!
The Sandy and Tom Callahan Center for Wildlife Conservation opens.
Zoo attendance surpasses 1.2 million.
ZooTampa and The Wendy’s Company began an exciting partnership with the launch of an original concept and delicious way for guests to stay cool in the Florida sunshine. The Frosty® Cart by Wendy’s®, the first-of-it’s-kind in the country, is located at the Wallaroo section of the Zoo’s Australia-themed family area and features classic chocolate and vanilla Frosty treats, Frosty Fusions, and a Build-Your-Own Frosty Sundae option. Guests can enjoy Lucky Charms™, marshmallows or Oreo® cookie pieces on their Wendy’s® Frosty!
The original Expedition Africa Tram Ride was retired, reimagined, and rebuilt to bring an all-new safari tour to Zoo-goers. Guests become “research interns” and travel aboard our custom-built open-air expedition vehicles through the Habari Preserve to get up-close with many of our African animals, while the Habari Preserve team teaches them about the amazing animals that call the preserve home. Founder of the preserve Professor Ron Treadway and ZooTampa research assistants lead the orientation tour, where guests learn how we’re working hard to continue our mission to save wildlife in wild places.
ZooTampa celebrated an attendance milestone for fiscal year 2021 by surprising its millionth visitor with a GET WILD SAFELY celebration. The Insixiengmay family, from Apple Valley, Minnesota, was greeted by an entourage of Zoo team members, gifts and much more. Despite COVID safety protocols that restricted crowd flow, ZooTampa hit its highest attendance ever during 2021.
ZooTampa proudly achieved many milestones in 2021, and was recognized with awards by several organizations, including:
1. Please make one field trip per reservation order. Complete one and start a new one if you have multiple days you are booking.
2. Headcount can be approximate. Please include children and adults in your headcount. Please do not include pass holders in your headcount for a ticket.
3. On the ticket page, choose the correct grade level (to the left of your screen) to receive the correct chaperone ratio.
4. On the ticket page, when on the calendar section, the number of tickets available will appear in the top right corner for each particular day. Tickets available include children and adults. If you have more people than tickets available, please choose another day.
5. Anyone that is ordering lunch, even pass holders and adults that receive free chaperone tickets, do need to pay for a lunch IF they are ordering one. Free chaperone tickets and pass holders are for admission only.
6. Payment does not need to be paid at the time of registration. Choose the pay upon arrival option if you would like one person to pay for your entire trip on the day of your visit.
7. The prices of adult and children’s tickets are different.
8. You will receive a confirmation number and confirmation letter via email when your trip is confirmed. If you do not, please contact Jamie.Elkington@Zootampa.org right away.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park offers a variety of delicious food for guests at several restaurants and concession stands throughout, but we understand that guests may need to bring outside food for special dietary needs. Acceptable and prohibited food items are listed below. For the convenience of our guests, there is a picnic area located outside the park near the main parking lot.
For the safety of our animals, guests and employees, the following items are not permitted to be brought into ZooTampa:
The following items are also prohibited to avoid blocking of walkways and/or trip hazards:
Please leave any unnecessary articles secured within your vehicle to expedite your entry into the park.
We reserve the right to deny entry to anyone not observing Zoo Rules.
With a new Pay For A Day, Rest of Year Free ticket – for a limited time – you get unlimited admission through December 31, 2023 including access to our seasonal event series. Some blockout dates apply — see below for details. Not valid with any other discounts.
When does my Pay For A Day ticket expire?
For a limited time, new Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free tickets are valid from the day of purchase until 12/31/2023 Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free tickets which were purchased prior to October 1st, 2022 are valid until 12/31/2022.
What are the blockout dates?
3/11/23 – 3/19/23
11/24/23 – 11/26/23
12/26/23 – 12/31/23
Can I purchase a Pay For A Day ticket on a blockout date?
Yes! You can purchase a Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free ticket for first-time use on a listed blockout date and have full access to the park on that day. Blockout dates apply to repeat visitation.
Can I use my Pay For A Day ticket on blockout dates?
If you already have your Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free ticket and wish to visit during a listed blockout date, please stop by the Zoo’s ticketing windows for alternate options: