Pretty in Pink – Roseate Spoonbills

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Written by Micah Carnate-Peralta, Animal Care Professional

During the first few months of 2018, we traveled to various locations around the globe learning about different avian species to celebrate the Year of the Bird, as well as highlighting the numerous victories that were achieved by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  For the month of May, we will traverse to our own backyards, the Florida wetlands, to explore and behold the beauty of the Roseate Spoonbill!

Named after their bright pink plumage and oddly unique bill structure, Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) live a simple coastal and shallow-water life.  You will find these birds in their natural range – around the Gulf of Mexico, several Caribbean Islands, and parts of South America when they migrate during winter to breed.  Many people often mistake these rose-colored birds for flamingoes due to their similar colors; however, if you take the time to look closer, there are significant differences between the two species.  For comparison, Roseates average around 3 feet in length with a 4-foot wingspan and do not have long necks or legs like flamingoes, but the one outstanding difference that sets the roseate apart from everyone is their bill shape!  As the most notable part of their body, their bill is long with a rounded spoon-like end. It is specialized in the fact that the spoon part of their bill possesses nerve endings that aid in the search for food in shallow murky waters.  While foraging for small crustaceans and fish, the roseate will wade in the water with its spoonbill submerged swaying its head from side to side.  When something bumps into their spoonbill, those sensitive nerve endings will alert the bird that there is food and it will then consume its prey.  By eating their favorite foods, such as shrimp, crabs, and crayfish, the spoonbill will be filled with an organic pigment called carotenoids, which will then give their feathers a lovely rose pink color!

Although their feathers are beautiful to see, the past was not so beautiful for the Roseate Spoonbills.

Long ago, Roseates were plentiful along the gulf coast of the United States, stretching from Texas to southern Florida.  However, in the late nineteenth century, fashion highly demanded for Roseate Spoonbill feathers, which were used for decorating the tops of women’s hats and fans.  The upsurge in hunting for these rosy feathers caused the spoonbill’s population to severely decline, hitting an ultimate low in the 1930s with only about thirty breeding pairs while constricting their breeding grounds to small islands in Florida Bay. With the help of the MBTA in 1918, Roseates were protected from any further hunting, allowing for the population to recover. Furthermore, the state of Florida provided additional protection for these birds through Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule of 1977 declaring that we must  “conserve or improve the status of endangered and threatened species in Florida to effectively reduce the risk of extinction.” Through the perseverance, dedication, and support of these two laws, the spoonbill population’s status rose from Endangered to its current standing of Least Concerned according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and deemed Threatened by the state of Florida.  Even though their story is currently progressing in a positive direction, Roseate Spoonbills still endure continuing threats that they must fight through to survive.  Such threats include habitat loss and disturbance due to human encroachment, pesticides that collect in their waters and food, and illegal hunting. Combating these threats may appear to be a daunting task for the Roseate Spoonbills, but they will always find support from their friends at ZooTampa!

Here at ZooTampa, the Aviary Department is dedicated to the conservation of our native birds, especially the Roseate Spoonbills. Through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Roseates are designated as a Species Survival Plan (SSP) species, a plan which ensures that the current Roseate Spoonbill population in zoos and aquariums will be genetically viable and sustainable for long-term survivability through carefully managed breeding of the birds and cooperation between participating institutions. Under our care, we have our own colony consisting of seven Roseate Spoonbills and you can find them in our Florida Aviary, located in the Florida Realm of the Zoo! You may even see them building and sitting on nests! Since they are native to Florida and if you enjoy birding or bird watching, you may also spot them in the trees of surrounding areas of Tampa Bay like Fort De Soto Park, Lettuce Lake Park, and Circle B Bar Reserve.

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How can you help birds like the Roseate Spoonbills that call Florida home?

  1. Reduce single-use plastics to save birds and other wildlife from ingesting the trash that pollutes our planet.
  2. Visit our lovely Roseate Spoonbills and check out their pretty feathers and unique bills for yourself!

By visiting the Zoo, you are one step closer to helping the Roseate Spoonbills, as well as our mission for the conservation of these species and other animals around the world!

Job Fair



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.

‘Tis the Season For Giving!

Donate to the ZooTampa Giving Tree

Trustees of the Lowry Park Zoological Society, Directors of the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation, and the Employees and Volunteers of ZooTampa understand and appreciate the vital role of philanthropy to accomplish our work. That’s why we subscribe to the Donor Bill of Rights developed by the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, National Society of Fund Raising Executives:

“Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes that they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:

  1. To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
  2. To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
  3. To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.
  4. To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
  5. To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.
  6. To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
  7. To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
  8. To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.
  9. To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
  10. To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.”

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is committed to protecting your privacy. We value the trust of our donors, volunteers, employees, and other supporters and recognize that maintaining this trust requires us to ensure the confidentiality of personal information that you share with us.

As a non-profit organization, ZooTampa relies on your support, depends on the support of generous contributors, and achieves ambitious fundraising objectives by communicating with and understanding donors. We know that it is essential to protect the privacy of that information. ZooTampa, the Lowry Park Zoological Society, and the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation will neither sell nor trade a donor’s personal information to any other entity without the written permission of the donor.


Lowry Park Zoological Society of Tampa, INC.: Registration No. CH140
Lowry Park Endowment Foundation, INC.: Registration No. CH20389



Phone: (800) 435-7352

Christmas in the Wild Reservation Changes

  • This can be found in your original purchase or reservation confirmation email.
  • We will do our best to accommodate your request, however changes are based on availability. A member of our team will reach out to you via the contact information provided above within 48 hours. Note: an additional fee may apply to event tickets being changed to a higher priced event night. Thank you!

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).