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Up-Close Animal Encounters and Feeding Experiences

Upgrade Your Day

Up-Close Animal Encounters & Feeding Experiences

Add amazing moments to your day at ZooTampa with our unforgettable signature animal encounters.

Reserve your spot today — spaces are limited.

KBUG

Know Before You Go

  • ZooTampa admission is required to participate in Signature Encounters. Purchase admission tickets here.
  • ALL guests on Signature Encounters, including children (except those 2 and under where permitted), parents, guardians, care givers, etc. MUST have an Encounter Ticket.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS VARY BY ENCOUNTER. Please see encounter details to ensure that all members of your party meet the requirements.
  • White Rhino and Elephant encounters utilize a vehicle for guest transportation. Please contact Guest Services if you need accommodations for vehicle loading.
  • Service animals are restricted from entering the Koala, Giant Tortoise, and African Penguin encounter areas. For accessibility resources go here.
  • Tour components are subject to change without notice due to animal, weather, or staff needs.
  • Encounters are only refundable 48 hours prior to your scheduled encounter. For refund inquiries, please contact Guest Services via email or call us at (813) 935-8552 ext 0.

View the Map

Signature Encounters Map

Each Signature Encounter meets at a different location. Please review the map to see where your encounter's meet-up location is.

View the Map

Each Signature Encounter meets at a different location. Please review the map to see where your encounter's meet-up location is.

Download the App

Get real-time walking directions to your encounter meeting location and so much more by downloading our mobile app! Just search "ZooTampa at Lowry Park" in your app store.

A young boy pets the neck of a big wrinkly Aldabra Tortoise at ZooTampa

Signature Encounter

Giant Tortoise Encounter

Go on habitat and enjoy an up-close interaction with one of our Giant Tortoises!

Encounter Time:

Daily at 10:30 AM

Age Requirements:

Open to all ages

Ticket Requirements:

  • Tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • Participants 2 and under are free and do not require a ticket.
  • Participants 3 and up require a ticket, and children 17 and under must also be accompanied by a paid, participating adult.

Meeting Location:

Meet at the Giant Tortoise habitat in Africa 10 minutes prior to your encounter time.

A young girl poses next to a koala as it sits on a tree branch at ZooTampa

Signature Encounter

Manatee Critical Care Center Backstage

Go behind-the-scenes to see the lifesaving work we do to care for sick, injured, and orphaned manatees each and every day!

Encounter Time:

Daily at 1:15 PM

Age Requirements:

Open to ages 5 and up, but recommended for ages 12 and up

Ticket Requirements:

  • Tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • All participants require a ticket, and children ages 5-17 must also be accompanied by a paid, participating adult.

Meeting Location:

Meet at the David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center in Florida 10 minutes prior to your encounter time.

Two people pet a White Rhino at ZooTampa

Signature Encounter

Southern White Rhino Backstage

Travel behind-the-scenes to the Rhino night house and meet a member of our White Rhino crash!

Encounter Time:

Daily at 11:00 AM

Age Requirements:

Open to ages 5 and up

Ticket Requirements:

  • Tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • All participants require a ticket, and children 5-17 must also be accompanied by a paid, participating adult.

Meeting Location:

Meet at the Signature Encounter Meeting Area at the front of the Zoo, near Guest Services, 10 minutes prior to your encounter time.

A boy feeding lettuce to an Indian Rhino at ZooTampa during an up-close encounter

Signature Encounter

Indian Rhino Feeding

Enjoy an unforgettable experience offering a tasty treat to one of our Indian Rhinos!

Encounter Time:

Daily at 1:45 PM
Saturdays and Sundays at 1:15 PM and 1:45 PM

Age Requirements:

Open to ages 5 and up

Ticket Requirements:

  • Tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • All participants require a ticket, and children 5-17 must also be accompanied by a paid, participating adult.

Meeting Location:

Meet at the Indian Rhino habitat in Asia 10 minutes prior to your encounter time.

A zookeeper reaches up and touches the trunk of an African Elephant

Signature Encounter

African Elephant Backstage

Travel behind-the-scenes to watch an elephant training session and find out how we care for the largest land animal on earth!

Encounter Time:

Daily at 2:30 PM

Age Requirements:

Open to ages 5 and up

Ticket Requirements:

  • Tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • All participants require a ticket, and children 5-17 must also be accompanied by a paid, participating adult.

Meeting Location:

Meet at the Signature Encounter Meeting Area at the front of the Zoo, near Guest Services, 10 minutes prior to your encounter time.

Guests experience African Penguin Signature Encounter at ZooTampa

Signature Encounter

African Penguin Backstage

Meet a member of our penguin colony and smile for a special photo op!

Encounter Time:

Daily at 12:15 PM and 12:30 PM

Age Requirements:

Open to ages 5 and up

Ticket Requirements:

  • Tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • All participants require a ticket, and children 5-17 must also be accompanied by a paid, participating adult.

Meeting Location:

Meet at the African Penguin habitat in Africa 10 minutes prior to your encounter time.

An African giraffe stands near trees

Signature Encounter

Giraffe Encounter

Get eye-to-eye with the world’s tallest animal as you participate in a training session with our giraffe family!

Encounter Time:

Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 AM and 10:15 AM

Age Requirements:

Open to ages 5 and up

Ticket Requirements:

  • All participants require a ticket, and children 5-17 must also be accompanied by a paid, participating adult.

Meeting Location:

Meet at the Giraffe Habitat in Africa, by the gate to the overlook, 10 minutes prior to your encounter time.*

*Please note the meet-up location for this encounter has recently been updated.

A young girl poses next to a koala as it sits on a tree branch at ZooTampa

Signature Encounter

Koala Photo Encounter

Book now for October!

Enjoy a special meet-and-greet with an adorable marsupial and pose for a “koala-ty” photo!*

Encounter Time:

Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 AM

Age Requirements:

Open to all ages

Ticket Requirements:

  • Tickets must be purchased in advance.
  • All participants 2 and under are free and do not require a ticket.
  • All participants 3 and up require a ticket, and all children 17 and under must also be accompanied by a paid, participating adult.

Meeting Location:

Meet at the Koala habitat in Wallaroo 10 minutes prior to your encounter time.

One photo included with your ticket*

Two colorful lorikeets land on the shoulder of a boy in the lorikeet aviary at ZooTampa

Lorikeet Landing Aviary

All Ages

Go inside this free-flight aviary with some of the world's most colorful birds. Experience is FREE with your admission, but only available at set times during the day. Check the Lorikeet Aviary for a schedule. Feedings may be available for a nominal fee at the time of your experience. See a team member at the Lorikeet Landing Aviary for more information.

Signature Encounter

Sloth Photo Encounter

All Ages
3 & Up Require a Ticket

Did you know that sloths can spend 90% of their lives upside down? Get up-close to one of our incredible sloths, meet a team member that cares for them every day, and then strike a pose for a photo by a professional photographer!

A sloth smiles as he hangs upside-down from a tree

ZooTampa Animal Encounter Tips & Guidelines

  • Admission is required to participate in Signature Encounters. If you have scheduled a Signature Encounter please purchase your admission ticket if you don’t already have it.
  • Masks are required to be worn by all guests participating in Signature Encounters. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided to you.
  • To ensure safety, participants agree to abide by Zoo safety protocols.
  • Guests may bring a camera; however, there are areas behind-the-scenes which you may be asked not to photograph. Video recording is not permitted behind-the-scenes.
  • Tour components are subject to change without notice due to animal, weather, or staff needs.
  • Service animals are restricted from entering the Koala Photo Encounter area.
  • Encounters are only refundable up to 48 hours in advance of your scheduled Encounter. For refund inquiries please contact our Guest Services team via email or call us at (813) 935-8552 ext 0.

IMPORTANT: Age requirements vary by encounter. See specific encounter for details.

Walk-Up Feeding Experiences

These feeding experiences can be paid for when you arrive at the habitat. No pre-purchase required.

A group of children reach into a pool to pet and feed stingrays as they swim past

Stingray Bay Touch Experience

All Ages

Temporarily Unavailable

Get hand-to-fin with a slippery stingray at this FREE up-close animal experience. Feedings may be available for a fee. See a Team Member at the Stingray Bay gift shop for more information.

Manatee Critical Care Center Backstage Encounter

NEW! Signature Encounter

Manatee Critical Care Center Backstage Encounter

For Guests Ages 5 & Up*

Temporarily Unavailable
Did you know that ZooTampa is home to the first non-profit manatee critical care facility in the US? At our state-of-the-art David A. Straz, Jr. Critical Care Center, we take in sick, injured, and orphaned manatees and provide them with the specialized care they need so they can be re-introduced back to their native waters. On this backstage tour, you'll go behind the scenes to learn more about what it takes to care for and rehabilitate this treasured Florida species. Plus, meet a member of the dedicated team who cares for them each and every day.

*This tour is recommended for ages 12 & up

Secrets of the Zoo Tampa

NEW! Backstage Encounter

Secrets of the Zoo Backstage Encounter

For Guests Ages 5 & Up*

Back by popular demand! Are you a fan of the NatGeo WILD television series, Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa? Season 3 is still under production, but you can get your fix now of the wild behind-the-scenes adventures of the amazing animals that live at ZooTampa and the dedicated team entrusted with their care. Go on an unprecedented tour with one of our “stars” and get exclusive updates on the animals you love. From rhinos to manatees, find out ALL the secrets and spend your morning on an adventure you will not forget.

*Accompanied by paying adult

ZooTampa will be open regular hours on Friday, September 30, 2022.