Birdy Spotlight!

Written by Kristen Merrill, Animal Care Professional

In celebration of the Year of the Bird, the Aviary team at ZooTampa is shining a spotlight on their favorite feathered friends! This month – the palm cockatoos!

Birdy Spotlight! - ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Found in Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia, palm cockatoos are a large cockatoo species that are black in color, but their “powder down” gives it a grey hue. “Powder down” are feathers that break down into a powder that the parrot then distributes throughout their other feathers during preening to keep them clean. Palm cockatoos also have red cheeks and a large crest. These beautiful characteristics actually help display the cockatoo’s mood! They have small feathers on the sides of the red patches, that can be moved up and down. Depending on their mood, they can choose to cover the patches with feathers, or proudly display those cheeks. The patches can turn a pale pink color if upset, or bright red if very excited. They have a large beak in between their cheeks, that actually cannot completely close. This allows for the cockatoo to break nuts open much easier using their finger-like tongue. Nuts are a palm cockatoos favorite snack, which is where they get their name from-palm nuts!

While Palm cockatoos are not currently considered endangered, the population is on the decline due to habitat destruction. They nest in hollow trees that the male cockatoo will line with sticks. The males will also drum along the side of the nesting area using a stick to create regular rhythms. They were actually just shown to be the only nonhuman species to produce a type of music using tools to amplify the sound. Male palm cockatoos set a beat just like a human drummer would do in a band!

Birdy Spotlight! - ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Our palm cockatoo here at ZooTampa gives his own concerts throughout the day, whistling at guests while they pass by into the Wallaroo area. His name is Ernie, and he is such a big personality! Ernie just turned 19 on March 19th, which makes him fairly young for a cockatoo. Their lifespan can be from 60-80 years! Parrots, like Ernie, are generally portrayed as charismatic and affectionate pets. But due to their long lifespan, intelligence, and specialized care, getting a parrot for a pet should be thoroughly researched. They need constant attention and items to keep them busy, otherwise, they may develop neurological issues. At the Zoo, Ernie receives enrichment items and training daily to keep him mentally and physically stimulated. On your next visit to ZooTampa at Lowry Park, be sure to stop by and visit Ernie at the entrance of Wallaroo!

Job Fair



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 right away.

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, 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?

Pay for a Day Get the Rest of the Year Free tickets purchased in October, November, or December of 2023, are valid from the day of purchase until 12/31/2024. Any Pay For a Day Get the Rest of the Year Free tickets purchased prior to October 1, 2023 expire on 12/31/2023.

What are the blockout dates?

11/24/23 – 11/26/23
12/26/23 – 12/31/23
3/9/24 – 3/17/24
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, 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.