Building A Beak For A Marabou Stork


In 2017, the Zoo welcomed a new Marabou stork, Djembe (pronounced “Jembay”).  It is a type of African drum and the name also comes from the saying, “Everyone gather together in peace”. The day the egg hatched, Djembe’s father suffered a wing injury and needed medical attention at the Zoo’s veterinary hospital. Stork parents work hand-in-hand to raise their chicks. While Djembe’s mother, Diana, tried her hardest to care for her chick, it proved to be too much for one stork. This is where the Zoo’s Animal Care Team intervened and continued to hand rear the chick – a first for the Zoo.

Building A Beak For A Marabou Stork - ZooTampa at Lowry Park

The Animal Care Team is using a puppet designed to mimic an adult Marabou in order to care for the newly hatched chick. This process helps prevent imprinting, which can lead to the loss of natural behavior and cause the chick to become too dependent on people. The glove puppet is used by the team to simulate the natural behaviors of being fed and preened by its mother. The “mother” puppet has an artificial beak created by a 3D printer right here at the Zoo and allows the Animal Care Team to care for the bird similar to its mother. Djembe continues to thrive and will be joining the Zoo’s Wild Africa area in the coming months. The chick will join the other storks and learn natural behaviors by mimicking the members of the Marabou flock.

Building A Beak For A Marabou Stork - ZooTampa at Lowry Park

Although 3D printing has been used to create prosthetics, beaks, as well as brand new limbs for a variety of animals, ZooTampa at Lowry Park is taking 3D printing for animals to another level. The zoo’s medical team has adopted 3-D printing technology to innovate specialized medical tools that aren’t commercially available, such as medical anesthesia masks designed to fit small primates for use in veterinary exams and procedures. The Zoo uses a 3D printer for various situations such as making a protective mask for an injured animal and creating a beak for the mother stork puppet used to feed the newly hatched Marabou stork. It is an innovative piece of technology that the Zoo is hoping can change the lives of animals that call the Zoo home or rescue animals that receive rehabilitation care at the Zoo.

Building A Beak For A Marabou Stork - ZooTampa at Lowry Park

The Marabou Stork, sometimes referred to as the “Undertaker Bird,” isn’t exactly blessed with good looks, but its unusual appearance actually gives it a unique charisma. Covered in a pinkish hue of skin around its head and neck, it resembles the vulture. This lack of feathers is to ensure its head does not get dirty while eating carrion (the flesh of animals). In fact, the marabou stork is seen normally hanging around vultures in Africa. The stork does not have the sharpened beak that vultures do, so they let the vultures do the hard work, while they come in and take the scraps. They mainly feed on carrion and animal remains, and while this does not seem to be very sympathetic in human eyes, they actually play a very important role in the ecosystem. By removing carcasses of dead animals, the storks help avoid the spread of pathogens and diseases.



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.