Shoebill Stork

Balaeniceps rex
Shoebill Stork

Shoebill storks are never found in groups. Only if food is in short supply will they be seen foraging near each other. Even breeding pairs will forage at opposite sides of their territory. Shoebills are non-migratory, but will make small movements between nesting and feeding zones. For flight, they will soar on thermals above their territory.

They are silent for the most part but will “bill-clatter” to each other, usually as a greeting between pairs. Adults may also make “mooing” noises and chicks will make hiccupping noises to beg for food. To hunt, they will usually use shallow waters with tall vegetation for camouflage. They will either stand and wait to ambush prey, or they will walk slowly to spot prey items.

Fun Facts:

  • Shoebills participate in a behavior called “egg-watering,” where a parent will get a bill full of water or wet grass, pour it over the nest, and roll the eggs around it to keep them cool.
  • Shoebills are known for standing motionless for long periods of time waiting on prey, and will even eat baby crocodiles.
  • Shoebills are often found in areas where the water is poorly oxygenated because the fish will have to surface for air more, ultimately making hunting easier.
  • Despite being called ‘storks’, Shoebills are more closely related to pelicans and Hamerkops than to other storks. The stork part of their name is based on their similar appearance to storks, rather than their genetic lineage.

Conservation Threats:


Natural Habitat

Freshwater swamps, dense marshlands, and flood plains


East Africa


Height: 3.5-5 ft

Weight: 12 lbs

Wingspan: 7.7 ft

*Males tend to be slightly taller with longer bills


35 years


The female lays 1-3 eggs per clutch and incubation takes about 30 days.

Diet Details

Mainly large fish like lungfish (favorite), eels, and catfish. They will also feed on water snakes, frogs, lizards, turtles, mollusks, and even carrion.


Please review our booking tips before continuing

Outside Food & Drinks Policy

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.

 Acceptable Items
  • Bottled water (max 20oz bottle, sealed) one per guest
  • Small snacks for young children
  • Baby food/baby formula
  • Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep (limit one per child)
  • Pre-purchased empty ZooTampa souvenir cups
  • Any food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplements
 Prohibited Items
  • Prepared or packaged food or meals
  • Alcohol
  • Glass or any open containers or water bottles filled with beverages
  • Hard-sided coolers of any size
  • Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep
  • Suitcases and soft-sided bags with wheels larger than 24” long x 15” wide x 18” high

Prohibited Items

For the safety of our animals, guests and employees, the following items are not permitted to be brought into ZooTampa:

  • Any type of explosive or weapon
  • Knives or other sharp objects
  • Pepper spray
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Marijuana
  • Illegal drugs
  • Straws
  • Clothing likely to create a danger or disturbance
  • Any hazardous items or materials

The following items are also prohibited to avoid blocking of walkways and/or trip hazards:

  • Segways
  • Hover boards
  • Two-wheeled scooters
  • Self-balancing electric vehicles
  • Shoes with wheels
  • Drones
  • Hard-sided coolers of any size
  • Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep
  • Suitcases and soft-sided bags with wheels larger than 24” long x 15” wide x 18” high

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.

Pay For A Day Tickets

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:

  1. During blockout periods, Pay For A Day ticket holders have access to significantly discounted single-day tickets.
  2. For a limited time from the date of purchase, Pay For A Day tickets can be upgraded to a Zoo Membership (with no blockout dates).
I purchased a Pay For A Day ticket online. How do I get my actual ticket?

Bring a copy of your confirmation (or show the confirmation email on your mobile device) to expedite entry into the Zoo. At your convenience during your visit you can stop by the Tours & Guest Services kiosk located just inside the Zoo to print your physical pass. No need to stand in line at the ticket windows. Walk right in!
Still have questions? Email us or call (813) 935-8552 ext. 0.