An Open Letter from ZooTampa

February 15, 2019

An Open Letter from ZooTampa at Lowry Park to Tampa Bay Times


Dear Tampa Bay Times Editor,


We are extremely disappointed The Tampa Bay Times continues to publish unsubstantiated accusations against ZooTampa at Lowry Park and its animal care team members. The newspaper is using sources with no credibility or expertise on the subject matter of their complaints. On Feb. 15, the story by Craig Pittman, yet again, posted a scathing headline and false accusations of wrongdoing around giraffe nutrition and medical care. The reporter relied on unverified information provided solely by one source who does not have any veterinary or nutrition training or expertise, nor any experience working with giraffe.

There was no mention in the article that the U.S. Department of Agriculture looked at every case and found no issues of concern with any giraffe death. The reporter is selectively including unsubstantiated claims and beliefs without verifying facts and information. For example, his stories omit essential facts, in this case, specifically that Dr. Ray Ball, D.V.M., is widely recognized internationally as one of the foremost veterinary experts on giraffe with a specialization in giraffe nutrition. He serves as the veterinary co-advisor for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Giraffe Species Survival Plan. Advancements made by Dr. Ball and championed by ZooTampa have significantly improved giraffe nutrition and care across Florida and nationwide.

Dr. Ball has authored and co-authored more than half a dozen scientific studies on the topic of giraffe medical care and nutrition that have been published in numerous peer-review scientific journals and have been presented at medical conferences.

This is irresponsible reporting that damages the credibility not only of a treasured Florida institution and a leading veterinary professional, but the credibility of this newspaper.


Joseph A. Couceiro

President & CEO

ZooTampa at Lowry Park