Statement from ZooTampa Upon Approval from USFWS to Accept Rescued Manatees

On March 8, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved ZooTampa at Lowry Park to accept rescued manatees in need of continuing care into our newly upgraded critical care center. The Zoo is privileged with the opportunity to care for one of Florida’s most beloved creatures in need again. 

After a year of construction and renovations, the manatees arriving at ZooTampa will be cared for in its critical care center that has a new, state-of-the-art filtration system that provides advanced life-saving support. This $3 million upgrade allows the Zoo to care for even more severely injured and sickened manatees. 

Dr. Lauren Smith, DVM, now directs the Zoo’s manatee medical care program with strong back-up support from an expert team of manatee veterinarians. 

Also supporting the manatee program is Tiffany Burns, the Zoo’s associate curator who brings 15 years of expertise and oversees a manatee care team. Dr. Ray Ball is not providing veterinary care for manatees at the Zoo. 

The Zoo has also improved its employee communication processes to ensure maximum accessibility for employees to address any questions and concerns in a timely and effective manner, always placing the best interest of animal care first. 

The Zoo team is working collaboratively with all partners, including the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, to facilitate the process of bringing manatees to the Zoo’s critical care center. For nearly three decades, ZooTampa has been entrusted to save hundreds of manatees in the wild— with the goal of returning them to native waters. The Zoo is ready to provide life-saving care to Florida manatees once again. 


About ZooTampa at Lowry Park 

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in conservation, education, recreation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours for select events. Parking is free. For more, visit or call (813) 935-8552. Also, find the Zoo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.