Bats – Heroes of the Night!

Written by Micah Carnate-Peralta

As the days get shorter and the night takes over during this time of the year, the darkness finds its way slowly creeping in and we begin to feel the chill in the air as it rustles through the leaves in the trees. Fall approaches ever so subtly and the creatures of the night come out to play knowing Halloween is just around the corner.  Some animals are associated with the scary holiday because of their spooky appearance – none are match against the fearsome bats!

Generally, bats are stigmatized as evil creatures that must be avoided at all costs for they may bite your neck and suck your blood like a vampire.  However, bats are actually the heroes of the night since they provide plentiful benefits for us to enjoy!  Globally, there are over 1,000 bat species and they’re the only mammals that can fly!  Although considered nocturnal animals, bats are not blind, which many of us wrongly assume.  Rather, bats depend on sound with their large ears and use of echolocation, sight with their large bulbous eyes, and smell with their well-developed nose when hunting for their prey.  At ZooTampa, you are able to behold the beauty of two fruit-eating bat species in their habitat, the Malayan Flying Fox and Straw-Colored Fruit Bat.

Bats - Heroes of the Night! - ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Here are some fascinating Malayan Flying Fox facts:

  • They hold the title as being one of the largest bat species on Earth,
  • Malayan Flying Fox bats are found in Southeast Asian countries
  • They have wingspan reaching up to 5 ½ feet wide with an average weight of two pounds.
  • Their size and dark fur may seem intimidating, but when you get to see one in person, their cute big eyes and nose will distract you.

 

In comparison, the Straw-Colored Fruit bat is quite different:

  • They are located in the southern half of Africa
  • Fruit bats are smaller a wingspan of 2 ½ feet
  • They form the largest mammal migration in the world! Every fall, it is estimated that over 8 million Straw-Colored Fruit Bats migrate to Kasanka National Park in Zambia.

Both of these bat species are frugivores, with their diet consisting of fruits, but they do also feast upon nectar and flowers.  These bats depend on their eyesight to spot fruit as they fly around at night in the rainforest, as well as their sense of smell in order to pinpoint the location of flowers emanating their sweets scents.  These bats play an important part in rainforest ecosystems worldwide because they are key seed dispersers, which help to regenerate tree growth.  According to the US Forest Service, fruit eating bats are also important because they pollinate more than 300 different fruits!  Without them, we would not be able to enjoy many of our guilty pleasures today like chocolate and tequila!

Here in Florida, insect eating bats call our own backyards their home. A single insect-eating bat can eat up to 1,200 mosquito-sized insects per hour and at least 6,000 to 8,000 bugs each night! If you do not like mosquitoes, who have the capability of carrying deadly disease, we must respect and protect these bats.

Unfortunately, bats are fighting against many challenges in their native homes.  Rainforests are being deforested due to human development causing destruction of their habitat and food sources.  The U.S. bat populations are currently in decline because of a cold-loving fungus called White-nose syndrome.  During hibernation, this fungus will grow on the bat, first eating away at their energy reserves, then leaving them to starve before winter ends.  This has caused at least 6 million bat deaths since 2006 and that number continues to grow. Half of all U.S. bat species have become listed as threatened, endangered, or near extinction.

Bats - Heroes of the Night! - ZooTampa at Lowry Park

We can help bats fight against extinction in many ways:

  • Purchase or build bat houses and place them in your yard is one way to help bats.
  • Visit their habitat in Wallaroo Station and hang around for a bit – just as the bats do!
  • Attend a bat chat during Creatures of the Night! During this Halloween event, the Education and Aviary teams will give three bat chats, including special enrichments. You will have the opportunity to watch the bats eat and fly around their home.

Just remember, bats are not scary creatures.  Instead, they are heroes of the night!

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Please review our booking tips before continuing

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.

Boxed lunch orders must be received 5 business days prior to your field trip arrival. Groups will be responsible for all boxed lunches that were confirmed at that time.

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 FieldTrips@ZooTampa.org right away.

Join our Summer Camp Waitlist

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Important Information

To complete your camp registration, you must:

  • Add camps to your shopping cart.
  • Enter roster information for each camp.
    • List all people that are authorized to pick-up your child from camp.
    • No camper will be released unless the adult picking up the child is on the authorized pick-up list and shows a photo ID.
  • Read and agree to the following documents:
  • Make payment.
  • Upon payment, you will receive a Confirmation Email with the above documents attached. Please print, sign, and return the Camp Waiver and Liability Release to EducationPrograms@ZooTampa.org or ZooTampa Summer Camp, c/o Jamie Elkington, 1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604. All waivers MUST be received no later than 2 weeks prior to the start of your camp program or your registration is subject to cancellation.

By clicking the registration button below, I confirm that I have read and agree to the Camp Waiver and Liability Release and Camp Handbook and will print, sign, and return the Camp Waiver and Liability Release to complete my registration.

‘Tis the Season For Giving!

Donate to the ZooTampa Giving Tree

Trustees of the Lowry Park Zoological Society, Directors of the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation, and the Employees and Volunteers of ZooTampa understand and appreciate the vital role of philanthropy to accomplish our work. That’s why we subscribe to the Donor Bill of Rights developed by the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, National Society of Fund Raising Executives:

“Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes that they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:

  1. To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
  2. To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
  3. To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.
  4. To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
  5. To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.
  6. To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
  7. To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
  8. To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.
  9. To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
  10. To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.”

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is committed to protecting your privacy. We value the trust of our donors, volunteers, employees, and other supporters and recognize that maintaining this trust requires us to ensure the confidentiality of personal information that you share with us.

As a non-profit organization, ZooTampa relies on your support, depends on the support of generous contributors, and achieves ambitious fundraising objectives by communicating with and understanding donors. We know that it is essential to protect the privacy of that information. ZooTampa, the Lowry Park Zoological Society, and the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation will neither sell nor trade a donor’s personal information to any other entity without the written permission of the donor.

FLORIDA STATE REGISTRATION

Lowry Park Zoological Society of Tampa, INC.: Registration No. CH140
Lowry Park Endowment Foundation, INC.: Registration No. CH20389

A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES

Phone: (800) 435-7352
FloridaConsumerHelp.com

Christmas in the Wild Reservation Changes

  • This can be found in your original purchase or reservation confirmation email.
  • We will do our best to accommodate your request, however changes are based on availability. A member of our team will reach out to you via the contact information provided above within 48 hours. Note: an additional fee may apply to event tickets being changed to a higher priced event night. Thank you!

Commemorations

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 Get Rest of Year Free ticket, you get free admission through December 31, 2024 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?

All Pay for a Day Get Rest of Year Free tickets (purchased after 9/30/2023) expire 12/31/2024.

What are the blockout dates?

11/24/24 – 11/26/24
12/26/24 – 12/31/24

Blockout dates apply to admission before 4:00 PM on the above dates.

Can I purchase a Pay for a Day ticket on a blockout date?

Yes! You can purchase a Pay for a Day Get 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 Get 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!

How do blockout dates affect seasonal events?

Blockout dates may apply on some seasonal event nights for Pay for a Day ticket holders. An upgrade surcharge is available to gain entry on those select nights. Blockout dates do not apply to members. To guarantee entry to select seasonal events with limited capacity, Pay for a Day ticketholders are encouraged to secure reservations in advance. A $5 per ticketholder reservation fee would be reimbursed in the form of a voucher for use in the park at select dining and retail locations.

Still have questions? Email us or call (813) 935-8552 ext. 0.