Koala-ty Facts

ZooTampa is thrilled to launch the Koala Photo Encounter Presented by the Yob Family Foundation. Guests will get up-close to an adorable koala for a koala-ty photo! Families will be eye-to-eye with the Zoo’s male koala, Heathcliff. Before your adventure, here are ten fascinating facts!

  1. What’s in a name?

It’s believed that this adorable animal gets their name form an Aboriginal word, which means ‘no drink’. Koalas get most of their moisture from the leaves they eat, and barely drink water.


  1. They come from a land down under!

Koalas live primarily in forests and woodlands dominated by eucalyptus in Australia.


  1. Not koala-fied to be a bear.

Koalas are mammals with round, fuzzy ears, but they are not bears. They’re members of  a group of pouched animals called marsupials.


  1. Vege-mates.

Both males and females can be territorial and display a range of behaviors to establish dominance or initiate breeding. They use scent marking – either with urine or with a scent gland in the chest of males or with vocalizations ranging from grunts, snarls, wails, groans, and bellows.


  1. Joeys are the size of jellybeans!

After a 33-36 day gestation period, the koala gives birth to an embryo the size of a jellybean. The ‘joey’ then makes the journey to mom’s pouch where it continues to develop for about 6 months. In the beginning, joeys are blind and earless so they rely on their natural instinct plus strong sense of touch and smell to find their way from the birth canal to its mother’s pouch.

  1. They love you…calyptus.

A Koala’s diet consists mostly of eucalyptus. A portion of the encounter price helps care for koalas here at the zoo. Out of over 600 kinds of eucalyptus, koalas prefer to feed on less than 20% of them. Koalas use their sense of smell to find the least toxic leaves, even within the same branch.


  1. Pick your poison.

While eucalyptus leaves are poisonous to most animals, a koala’s digestive tract has special bacteria that breaks down toxic compounds and flushes them out quickly. This is important because it is also the reason why koalas are hard to treat for different infections.


  1. Zzzz’s and calories.

Due to their low calorie diet, Koalas save their energy by moving occasionally and sleeping almost 20 hours a day.


  1. Keeping up with Koalas.

This iconic Australian species is vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss to human homes, forest fires and droughts. National pride has bolstered conservation efforts and independent states have increased awareness and legal protection of this marsupial.


  1. Koala-ty photos get all the likes!

While only zookeepers are allowed to touch koalas, ZooTampa is one of two places in the U.S. to offer the chance to get THIS close to koalas! Book your Koala Photo Encounter today!

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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.