Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa

Catch ZooTampa's animals and staff in
Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa

Watch on Nat Geo WILD, Hulu, & Amazon Prime Returns July 12th

Ways to watch*

Watch Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa on Nat Geo WILD

Frontier Fios - Channel 132/632 HD
Spectrum - Channel 148
DirecTV - Channel 283
Dish - Channel 190
Also Available on Hulu & Amazon Prime

* Channel numbers are specific to the Tampa Bay area and may be different depending on your location and TV service provider

Follow Along on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter @ZooTampaCurator, and tweet us your questions! Just tag us and use the hashtag #SecretsOfTheZooTampa!

Behind-the-Scenes Tour with the STARS of Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa!

Catch the second season of the popular series, SECRETS OF THE ZOO: TAMPA on Nat Geo WILD starting Sunday, July 12 for an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at our amazing animals and the dedicated team entrusted with their care.

Want more adventure? Join your favorite "stars" for a VIP tour featuring exclusive updates on our most memorable animal stories.

Schedule of "STARS":

  • JULY 18th Join Curator Chris as he takes you on a journey around the Zoo to learn more about the top stories featured on the show. Make a special stop to visit our most famous pair from season one, Indian rhinos Jamie and Johnny.
  • JULY 25th Staff veterinarian Dr. Lauren will give you an exclusive peek into our Catherine Lowry Straz Animal Hospital and take you to visit the latest group of manatee patients recovering at our critical care center.
  • AUG 1st Go on an adventure with Associate Curator Tiffany and explore the newest member of the ZooTampa family, a baby binturong, then get an update on everyone’s favorite panthers and orangutans.
  • AUG 8th Take a safari to Africa with Associate Curator Mike and learn more about some of the Zoo’s most majestic species including elephants and rhinos.
  • AUG 15th Be part of a training session with Associate Curator Sue and then explore our new clouded leopards and serval habitats.
  • AUG 22nd Take a tour with Dr. Cynthia through our state-of-the-art animal hospital and learn what it takes to provide top-notch veterinary care to the 265 species that live at our zoo. Afterwards, visit one of our most beloved species, the Florida panther.
  • AUG 29th Join Animal Care Manager Molly for a glimpse at the around-the-clock care that takes place at the David A Straz Jr Critical Care Center to rehabilitate orphaned and injured manatees. The adventure continues with a visit to the otter habitat where you can learn the importance of this amazing and playful species.
  • SEPT 5th Go on a colorful aviary adventure with Animal Care professional Danny as he highlights the amazing bird species that live at ZooTampa. Get an update on the popular “fluff nuggets” from season one and catch up with the latest happenings of everyone’s favorite penguin colony.
  • SEPT 12th Take a tour of the fascinating and often misunderstood world of amphibians and reptiles with Animal Care team member Jason. Stop by our famous Aldabra tortoises for a “turtle-ly” awesome enrichment, get up-close with our Galapagos tortoises for a “shell-fie.” You’ll learn about the special bonds the team has with these incredible species, including the now famous Sandwich the Cuban Iguana.

On Sale Now! Cost is $100 for members, $125 for non-members and includes continental breakfast and a photo of your adventure.

Know Before You Go

  • Masks are not required to enter the park, but are strongly recommended. Masks may be required on certain portions of this tour based on proximity to animals, staff, and other guests. If you do not have a mask, we will provide you with a disposable mask at no cost.
  • To ensure safety, participants agree to abide by Zoo safety protocols including social distancing and healthy hygiene practices.
  • Due to our modified operations, guests will have their temperatures checked at the Zoo’s entrance. Anyone with a temperature above 100.4 degrees will not be admitted.
  • If you feel sick, please stay home and seek proper medical care.
  • Outside food and beverages, with the exception of bottled water, are not permitted. Please follow the guidance and instruction of Zoo staff at all times.
  • Due to stringent regulations pertaining to the protection of the rare and endangered animals in the Zoo’s care, service animals may be prohibited from some behind-the-scenes areas. Read more about our Service Animal Policy.
  • Refund & Cancellation Policy: Please arrive no later than 8:15 AM. Late arrivals/no-shows may result in forfeiture of the experience and will not be eligible for a refund. To cancel, please call 813-935-8552 or email Cancellation requests must be made 36 hours before the scheduled tour time in order to receive a refund.
  • Age requirements: Under 18 years old must be accompanied by a paying parent or guardian. Guests must be 5 years of age or older to participate.

Meet the Stars of Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa

Dr. Lauren Smith, Veterinarian

Dr. Lauren, Director of Animal Health

A native of Texas and a child of a military family, Lauren graduated from Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. After earning her veterinary degree, Dr. Lauren spent several years in companion animal practice before being selected for a prestigious internship in aquatic animal medicine at the University of Florida. In that capacity, she worked with a wide variety of species across several facilities throughout Florida.

Following completion of that program, Dr. Lauren returned briefly to private practice and spent time in Alaska before joining the veterinary team in ZooTampa in 2015.

Dr. Lauren has a passion for aquatic animals and is currently the zoo's lead manatee veterinarian, managing all care of these gentle giants.

Dr. Cynthia Stringfield, DVM, Senior VP of Animal Health, Conservation and Education

Dr. Cynthia, DVM, Senior VP of Animal Health, Conservation & Education

Dr. Stringfield brings more than 35 years of experience as a medical professional and is a passionate advocate for the care and conservation of animals throughout the world.

Most recently, Dr. Stringfield was a member of the animal health team at the Santa Barbara Zoo and a professor and department chair of the Exotic Animal Training and Management program at Moorpark College. Prior to that, she was a clinical and supervising veterinarian at the Los Angeles Zoo. Additionally, through U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Dr. Stringfield was the California Condor Veterinary Coordinator and Advisor for 17 years and a member of the California Condor Recovery Team during the incredible recovery of this endangered species. Dr. Stringfield also brings extensive big cat experience to ZooTampa, and is very excited to again work with USFWS and be part of the Florida Panther Recovery Program.

Chris Masarro, General Curator

Chris, General Curator

Chris grew up hiking and exploring the forests of New Hampshire prior to moving to Tampa with his family when he was in high school. He attended the University of South Florida where he studied anthropology with a focus on biological anthropology and primatology.

He began his career at ZooTampa in 2002 as an intern. During his career, Chris has been a pioneer in many of the zoo’s breeding programs including the zoo’s first breeding program of rhinoceros which has resulted in the successful birth of nine endangered Indian and southern white rhinos. He also managed the zoo’s first naturally conceived elephant birth. Additionally, he is a member of the steering committee for the rhinoceros taxon advisory group.

Chris continues to have a fascination with exploring nature, visiting national parks and hiking. He is a proud father of a son and a great dane. On his spare time, he coaches his son’s soccer team and collects rare whiskey.

Tiffany Burns, Associate Curator

Tiffany, Associate Curator

Tiffany has over 15 years of animal experience, 10 of which have been with marine mammals. She began her career in her hometown of Las Vegas where she worked with dolphins at the Mirage Hotel. She’s participated in countless medical procedures, animal rescues and rehabilitation of marine mammals throughout the US and the world including St. Thomas, St. Kitts and Roatan. She has been involved with training staff in sanctuaries in Africa on best practices and how to behaviorally manage their large group of chimpanzees.

As the Associate Curator at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Tiffany has many roles including leading the Manatee Care team. She is thrilled to fulfill her lifelong dream of working with a wide variety of animals and being part of the team that rescues, rehabilitates and releases sick and injured manatees back to Florida waters.

Her favorite role, however, is being a mother to 2-year-old, Myla. The love for animals runs strong in her family; husband Mike is also an Associate Curator and their daughter Myla attends Zoo School.

Associate Curator Mike

Mike, Associate Curator

Mike is a graduate of Roger Williams University in Rhode Island with a degree in biology. He started his career working at Coral World in St. Thomas. He later moved to Texas to work with elephants, rhinos and hoof stocks.

In 2010, he joined the team at ZooTampa which has been recognized with numerous awards for their work with elephants, including the prestigious Edward H. Bean award through the American Zoological Association and the Behavior Management Innovation Award at ABMA. Mike and his team's work with elephants has also been published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology. As one of the leaders of animal care, Mike serves on several committees at ZooTampa.

Mike is well-known for his sense of humor and proudly states that he is passionate about three things: his family, animals and his jeep.

Sue, Associate Curator of Behavior

Sue, Associate Curator of Behavior

Sue was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended the University of Findlay to study pre-veterinary medicine, but ultimately changed her mind to follow her love in animal training. Her passion for animals was sparked during her volunteer work at her local animal shelters and clinic. She started her career at the Cleveland Zoo. After some further career exploration abroad, she got a full time position at the Miami Seaquarium as a marine mammal trainer working with 16 bottlenose dolphins and multiple species of parrots. She later furthered her experience at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she got to work closely with the animals from Dolphin Tale 2.

Coming to ZooTampa she had to hang up her wet suit, and started off in the Africa section of the zoo working with elephants and rhinos. Two years ago, she transitioned into the position of Behavior Manager and was subsequently promoted to Associate Curator of Behavior. Sue is able to share her passion for animals as well as teach staff how to modify behavior, improve animal welfare, and bridge that connection between animals and the guests. One of her proudest accomplishments at ZooTampa was the reinvention of the Macaw Flyover — teaching 14 macaws a brand new flight path after years of flying a certain way. Her favorite part of working at the Zoo is being able to bring new ideas and support to the animal care team.

Outside of work life, you can catch Sue surrounded by her two dogs, enjoying active adventures with her husband, making homemade gifts, or scuba diving!

Molly, Animal Care Manager

Molly, Animal Care Manager

Molly attended school at Coastal Carolina University and graduated in 2005 with a degree in Marine Science. She interned at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach and Dolphin Quest in Bermuda. After graduation, Molly moved to Florida and worked at the Florida Aquarium in their education department as an interpreter and diver.

She started her ZooTampa career in the Herps & Aquatics Department before moving to the Florida Mammals Department in 2009, where she works with a wide variety of Florida species and is part of the team that rescues, rehabilitates and releases sick and injured manatees.

Jason, Senior Animal Care Professional

Jason, Senior Animal Care Professional

Jason graduated with a bachelor's degree from Augustana College in 2008, where he majored in Biology and minored in Biochemistry. After college, Jason worked with marine systems and herpetofauna in the private sector before moving to work with sharks and rays at the St Louis Zoo. After a few years getting his feet wet, he moved to Tampa in 2014 and worked briefly on the bird/reptile team at Busch Gardens before finding his way to ZooTampa and joined the Herps and Aquatics team.

Some career highlights at ZooTampa include breeding Panamanian golden frogs, Fiji banded iguanas, and Puerto Rican crested toads. He also has worked on a "Conserving the Common" initiative with other Florida institutions, helping to protect Florida species for future generations.

Jason spends his free time with his pachyderm-loving wife and two amazing daughters, his old dog Higgins, and his army of reptiles and amphibians.

Danny, Senior Animal Care Professional

Danny, Senior Animal Care Professional

Danny was born in New Jersey but spent most of his life in Florida, where he attended University of South Florida in hopes of becoming a veterinarian. His path changed while doing an internship at ZooTampa in the Aviary Department, which made him fall in love with the diversity of the bird world. He was hired shortly after as a Lorikeet Interpreter, and then graduated from USF with a Bachelor's in Biology with a concentration in Integrative Animal Biology.

Currently, he is a senior animal care professional, and his primary focus is the Main Aviary where he has helped steer the way for successful breeding of our Inca tern colony and focus on husbandry based training with many of the bird species in our aviary. His favorite species to work with is our great Indian hornbills, and his favorite individual bird is Cubie, our Cuban Amazon parrot!

Danny is a self-proclaimed huge dinosaur nerd, which helps since he works with modern-day dinosaurs. In his spare time he likes to quote Jurassic Park, go birding, and collect movie art prints and insects!