Panther Kittens Make Public Debut at ZooTampa

Adorable ambassadors of their species make their public debut at ZooTampa!

For a limited time, catch a pair of endangered Florida panther kittens during their daily play sessions.

The brothers, named Cypress and Pepper, were rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after their mother suffered from an unknown neurological disorder that is affecting wild populations of panthers and bobcats. The almost 6-month-old kittens have been hand-raised in human care most of their lives, making them unlikely candidates for release back into the wild.

The healthy and energetic duo can be seen playing at ZooTampa daily from 12:30pm-2pm for the next several weeks until a permanent home is identified. Home to 3 other rescued panthers, ZooTampa is a leader in conservation of panthers and other Florida endangered wildlife.

Important information for guests: For a limited time, the kittens can be seen daily from 12:30pm-2pm in their yard in the Wallaroo section of the zoo. Viewing times subject to change without notice. Please check boards at the entrance of the park for details.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why does ZooTampa have the Florida panther kittens?

As one of the state’s top facilities for the rehabilitation of endangered Florida species, ZooTampa was asked by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to care for and assist in the evaluation of the kittens while the investigation continues into the neurological disorder affecting panthers and bobcats.

When and where can the Florida panther kittens be seen?

Starting Tuesday, December 17 and for the next several weeks, the two Florida panther kittens being cared for by ZooTampa will make their public debut in their play yard located in the Wallaroo section (formerly the singing dog habitat) from 11am-2pm.

Why are there keepers in the habitat?

Due to being hand-raised in human care most of their lives, the almost 6-month old kittens are not candidates for release back into the wild. To ensure their future success in a zoological environment, the animal care team is working with the panthers to establish a trust-based relationship.

How does the animal care team build relationships with the panthers?

The team builds trust-based relations with the panthers by providing choice-based training and enrichment for their physical and mental stimulation. The animals voluntarily participate in their learning ensuring interactions are positive.

Why are they only out for a limited time?

The kittens are primarily being cared for behind-the-scenes. Public viewing times coincide with when the panthers are out on their yard learning with the animal care team.

Where do they live when not in their Wallaroo play yard?

The kittens are primarily being cared for behind-the-scenes at our Catherine Lowry Straz Veterinary Hospital. The team has been able to teach the kittens to voluntarily kennel to travel to their play yard at Wallaroo.

How long are they at ZooTampa?

The kittens will be at ZooTampa for the next several weeks until the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission identifies a permanent home.

Where are they going?

FWC is working to finalize plans on their permanent home.

Why are they not staying at ZooTampa and why are they not with the other panthers?

ZooTampa is already home to three panthers that are unable to survive on their own in the wild due to injury or illness.

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Please review our booking tips before continuing

1. Please make one field trip per reservation order. Complete one and start a new one if you have multiple days you are booking.

2. Headcount can be approximate. Please include children and adults in your headcount. Please do not include pass holders in your headcount for a ticket.

3. On the ticket page, choose the correct grade level (to the left of your screen) to receive the correct chaperone ratio.

4. On the ticket page, when on the calendar section, the number of tickets available will appear in the top right corner for each particular day. Tickets available include children and adults. If you have more people than tickets available, please choose another day.

5. Anyone that is ordering lunch, even pass holders and adults that receive free chaperone tickets, do need to pay for a lunch IF they are ordering one. Free chaperone tickets and pass holders are for admission only.

Boxed lunch orders must be received 5 business days prior to your field trip arrival. Groups will be responsible for all boxed lunches that were confirmed at that time.

6. Payment does not need to be paid at the time of registration. Choose the pay upon arrival option if you would like one person to pay for your entire trip on the day of your visit.

7. The prices of adult and children’s tickets are different.

8. You will receive a confirmation number and confirmation letter via email when your trip is confirmed. If you do not, please contact right away.

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, 2024 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?

Pay for a Day Get the Rest of the Year Free tickets purchased in October, November, or December of 2023, are valid from the day of purchase until 12/31/2024. Any Pay For a Day Get the Rest of the Year Free tickets purchased prior to October 1, 2023 expire on 12/31/2023.

What are the blockout dates?

11/24/23 – 11/26/23
12/26/23 – 12/31/23
3/9/24 – 3/17/24
11/24/24 – 11/26/24
12/26/24 – 12/31/24

Blockout dates apply to admission before 4:00 PM on the above dates.

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.