Making progress on the manatee critical care center

By Joe Couceiro, President and Chief Executive Officer

A hallmark of ZooTampa at Lowry Park is that every day our team takes action to protect the natural world and create exceptional personalized experiences connecting people with wildlife and each other. For example, we recently welcomed the zoo’s first litter of rare, red wolf pups. A new, innovatively designed habitat contributed to the birth of these pups.  This state-of-the-art habitat also allows guests to be part of this unique experience as they see the pups grow and emerge from their den.  For families, we kicked off the summer with a splash – by opening a wild water adventure.  Roaring Springs presented by Pinch A Penny allows guests to trek through Florida and discover endangered native wildlife, then board a boat for a family journey along a flowing stream and feel then feel the roar of a three-story splashdown.  These two additions are now open, and are just a small part of ZooTampa’s recently announced transformation plan.

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Additionally, we have been at work behind the scenes on a $3 million upgrade to ZooTampa’s manatee life support capacities.  When the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center opened more than 25 years ago, it set a new standard for manatee rescue and care. From a uniquely-designed observation area, the center gave guests a view of veterinary and rehabilitation procedures in real time. Zoo visitors fell in love with Florida’s gentle sea cows. Through hundreds of rescues, our manatee care team became leaders in successful manatee rescue, rehabilitation and eventually release, helping move these marine mammals back into the wild, inspiring the next generation of manatee lovers.  The newly improved life support system will allow us to provide more advanced, specialized care for the welfare of the manatees. Now we will be able to treat even the most severe cases.

While work progresses on the center, our team is assisting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park with the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured manatees. Our veterinary and animal care teams continue to conduct research, for which ZooTampa is internationally recognized as leaders in manatee care. We proactively educate visitors about the role we as humans play in ensuring peaceful coexistence with this vulnerable marine mammal found in Florida waters.

After years of planning and fundraising for the project, the center’s renovations are nearing completion. We are on an aggressive schedule to reopen the center this fall and begin receiving manatees in desperate need of care. It’s our mission to protect and conserve wildlife, particularly native Florida species, like the manatee, and we take great pride in helping save them.  Animal care is at the core of everything we do.

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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.