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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.

Age Requirement Info

Age requirements vary by encounter

  • Children under the age of 5 may participate in the Aldabra Tortoise Encounter, Koala Photo Encounter, and Lorikeet feeding experience. All other encounters and experiences require guests to be 5 years of age or older.
  • For all animal experiences, children under the age of 18 require an encounter ticket and must be accompanied by an adult with an encounter ticket.
  • Children under the age of 3 may participate in the Aldabra Tortoise Encounter & Koala Photo Encounter without a ticket as long as they are accompanied by a paying adult with a ticket for the encounter.

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 Sloth 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.
A young rhino and her mother at ZooTampa

Signature Encounter

Southern White Rhino Backstage

For Guests Ages 5 & Up

Did you know white rhinos can weigh up to 5,000 pounds? Go behind-the-scenes to the Rhino barn to experience the massive presence of this important animal. You and your family will learn amazing facts from those who care for them at ZooTampa and get to know some of the members of our crash!

Meet at Manatee Circle near Expedition Photo 10 minutes prior to your ticket time. Tickets must be purchased in advanced to participate in this experience.

An African giraffe stands near trees

Signature Encounter

Giraffe Backstage Encounter

For Guests Ages 5 & Up

Get eye-to-eye with the world's tallest animal! Get to know our giraffe's quirky personalities, ask questions, and learn about the positive reinforcement techniques we use with all of our animals.

Meet at Manatee Circle near Expedition Photo 10 minutes prior to your ticket time. Tickets must be purchased in advanced to participate in this experience.

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

Signature Encounter

Indian Rhino Feeding

For Guests Ages 5 & Up

Get up-close for an unforgettable experience where you get to feed a greater one-horned rhinoceros! Commonly known as an Indian rhino, this rare species is vulnerable to extinction. Plus, learn more about our breeding pair Jamie & Johnny, get exclusive access to the team that cares for these special animals every day.

Meet at the Indian Rhino habitat 10 minutes prior to your ticket time. Tickets must be purchased in advanced to participate in this experience.

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

Signature Encounter

Aldabra Tortoise Encounter

All Ages
3 & Up Require a Ticket

Did you know the Aldabra tortoise is second only to the Galapagos as the biggest land tortoise in the world? Get up-close with these fascinating reptiles and spend time with the team that cares for these gentle giants.

Meet at the Aldabra Tortoise habitat 10 minutes prior to your ticket time. Tickets must be purchased in advanced to participate in this experience.

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

Signature Encounter

African Elephant Backstage

For Guests Ages 5 & Up

What's it like to care for the largest land animal on earth? Find out first-hand how our Animal Care Team utilizes learned behaviors to ensure our African elephants are maintaining optimal health and welfare. Plus, watch a real training session and talk to the professionals who interact with these amazing animals every day.

Meet at Manatee Circle near Expedition Photo 10 minutes prior to your ticket time. Tickets must be purchased in advanced to participate in this experience.

A young girl pets an African Penguin at ZooTampa

Signature Encounter

African Penguin Backstage

For Guests Ages 5 & Up

Get a behind-the-scenes look at how we care for our endangered African penguins. Meet members of our colony and ask any penguin question you may have from our Animal Care Team.

Meet at the African Penguin habitat 10 minutes prior to your ticket time. Tickets must be purchased in advanced to participate in this experience.

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

Signature Encounter

Koala Photo Encounter

All Ages
3 & Up Require a Ticket

On this encounter with an adorable marsupial, you'll go behind-the-scenes with our animal care team to meet Heathcliff, our male Queensland Koala, for a "koala-ty" photo.

Meet at the Koala habitat in Wallaroo 10 minutes prior to your ticket time. Tickets must be purchased in advanced to participate in this experience.

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, FREE with your admission! Feedings may be available for a 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