In The Field

ZooTampa’s commitment to conservation often takes staff beyond the grounds of the Zoo and out into the field.  Whether it is in the form of animal rescue or release, population monitoring, providing veterinary support to wild species or assisting our global conservation partners, ZooTampa is prepared to lead the way in saving species. 

Manatee Rescue

Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release and Monitoring

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is widely known for caring for critically injured, sick and orphaned manatees. This endangered species has been at the heart of the Zoo’s commitment to conservation of Florida wildlife for more than 20 years.  Our manatee and veterinary teams are often called upon to assist in the field with rescuing an injured or ill manatee or responding to call from a concerned citizen who has spotted a manatee that may be in trouble.  Manatees are strong and resilient and can overcome some of the most severe injuries with the care that they receive at the Zoo’s manatee hospital.  One of the most rewarding part of ZooTampa’s role in manatee conservation is when an animal is healed and is ready for release. It is an awe-inspiring and often emotional moment for staff and the community when a manatee is released back in to the wild.  

 

I have participated in over 100 manatee releases but seeing each one swim away to freedom is the best feeling and never gets old. Connecting with people at these release sites is a great way to pass the conservation torch and inspire a sense of stewardship. In this way I know we can save the world one manatee at a time.” Jenn Galbraith, Senior Animal Care Professional

Florida Panther Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release and Monitoring

Florida Panther Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release and Monitoring

The Zoo’s Vice President of Medical Sciences and Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Ray Ball, has been working to save Florida Panthers for over 15 years.  He has worked with both State and Federal conservation partners to provide his medical expertise in support of wild panther health assessments and in treating injured or ill panthers.  Dr. Ball never shies away from the most severe cases and is always committed to doing whatever it takes to give the panther the best chance to be released back the wild.  Though some panthers’ injuries are too severe, and they are unable to be released back to the wild, Dr. Ball will provide ongoing care and so that they can have the best quality of life and safe haven at ZooTampa.

 

“Having the privilege of providing care to Florida panthers has been one of the highlights of my career.  It is a rare opportunity to both provide direct support for wild panthers and also individual care for rehabilitated panthers.  Both efforts are critical to help ensure the survival of this great Florida cat.”  Dr. Ray Ball, VP of Medical Science and Senior Veterinary

PASA Primate Caregiver Training Program

PASA Primate Caregiver Training Program

ZooTampa’s VP of Conservation, Lee Ann Rottman, has over 26 years of experience working with African apes both at ZooTampa and in Africa.  Her work has gained her both local and international recognition and for the past several years, Lee Ann has been working with the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) as a consultant for primate care and as an instructor for PASA’s Primate Care Training Program. Throughout Africa both apes and monkeys are victims of the bushmeat trade and the illicit pet trade. If the primates are lucky they are rescued and taken to one of PASA’s 23 sanctuaries for rehabilitation and long-term care. High quality care is crucial to these animals, who often require specialized treatment to recover from the physical and psychological trauma they have endure. Lee Ann is providing that training and helping these sanctuaries develop their staff to be conservation leaders and a voice for the primates under their care.

“Working with the staff and animals at PASA sanctuaries is truly rewarding. Teaching the keepers to be their best for the animals and seeing their dedication to learning and caring for each individual animal are the moments you feel you have personally made a difference in the world.“  Lee Ann Rottman, VP of Conservation

Puerto Rican Crested Toad Tadpole Release Program

Puerto Rican Crested Toad Tadpole Release Program

The animal care professionals at ZooTampa’s Herps/Aquatics department have been working with the Puerto Rican Crested Toad Recovery Program (PRCT) for over 10 years.  Their role is to breed the Crested toads, housed at ZooTampa, to send the tadpoles back to Puerto Rico for release.  In 2004, Crested toad became listed by IUCN as Critically Endangered when it was estimated that less than 100 adult toads remained in the wild.  Through captive breeding for release it is the hope of the PRCT Recovery Program that this unique toad can rebound.  To date the Zoo’s Amphibian team have breed and released over 3000 tadpoles back to the wild in Puerto Rico.

 

Directly contributing to the population increase of these critically endangered toads gives hope to a species on the verge of extinction.  My proudest moment at ZooTampa happens each year as we ship off tadpoles to Puerto Rico.  Conservation progresses one small hop at a time, and efforts like this are a big leap forward.”   Lewis Single, Senior Animal Care Professional