Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

As summer looms in Florida, when temperatures and humidity work against outdoor enjoyment, I decided to head out to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.

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Since I  live nearby, I opted for their “Buy a Day, visit for a year” promotion.  From now until the end of the year, I have access to the park with minimal black out dates (primarily their highest attendance dates).  That works just fine for me.

I opted to ask one of the employees the best place to start the day off.  He suggested starting with the primates, as they tend to be most active in the morning. And he was right.  The howler monkeys were serenading the park guests

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Other primates were hanging out, including some orangutans who were proudly supporting Tampa’s ice hockey team, the Lightning, in their bid for the Stanley Cup.

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From the primate area, I headed over towards their African animal section.  I was delighted to see one of my favorite animals, the penguins.

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I could have stayed here all day, but there was still more zoo to see, so off I continued, taking in the Safari Africa section, with both an open cart ride and walking trails.

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The ground hornbill followed along the fence by the carts, keeping a keen eye on the passengers.

The walking trails show some of the same animals that you see on the cart ride, but you can get a closer look.

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I will admit that I might have gotten a slight bit anxious when it looked like the rhino was giving me side-eye, but it was still amazing to get so close to such a rare animal.

One of the newest animals on exhibit are the African Painted Dog.  While similar to your pet dog, this animal is actually in a separate genus, separated from domesticated dogs by having fewer toes and teeth that are hypercarnivorous (more than 70% of their diet is meat).  They are also considered endangered, as there are only about 8,000 adults in existence.

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I couldn’t resist stopping by the meerkat enclosure as well.  Obviously, these guys know how to pose for the camera.

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From there, I crossed over to the aviary.  The large enclosure has separate sections, with hanging chains that help keep the birds from one section out of the others.  I guess they’re trying to keep birds of a feather flocking together.

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As we neared noon, the animals in the Asian Gardens section were all taking naps, so I opted to check out the Florida Wildlife portion of the park.  Native and not so native species were on display.  The park is currently upgrading several sections and the manatees were not available.  But others were.

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The regular admission for Lowry Park Zoo is $34.95 for adults and $25.95 for children aged 3-11.  There are several other packages you can purchase tickets with, including the TampaBay CityPass or reservations with hotel stays.  There are also several other activities you can participate in within the park, including behind the scenes tours and animal feedings.  With several areas to buy food and snacks, you could easily make a full day of it.

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The Florida Aquarium

This morning, after purchasing a ticket through Groupon yesterday, I packed up Rover and drove over into Downtown Tampa to check out The Florida Aquarium.  Even having lived here for 15 years, I hadn’t taken the time to drive into downtown.  I probably should have done it earlier, as it is closing in on the end of the school year here and there were several school groups on field trips.  But it was great to see all the excitement that these young children had for the creatures who inhabit our Gulf and oceans.

I started off walking through the Wetlands exhibit, which replicate a typical mangrove forest in Florida.

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It is amazing the array of life that teams in these forests.

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It wasn’t just the underwater inhabitants that drew excitement from visitors.

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As well as the usual suspects who roam the waters of Florida.

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Up a set of stairs, I found the exhibit about creatures of Madagascar.  It was really popular with the school kids, but I was able to get one family portrait.

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There were many other exhibits throughout the aquarium, giving us glimpses of the denizens of the deep.

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Tiger sharks are known to live in and around the beaches of Florida, but they’re most active at dusk and don’t often head into the shallows.

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Lion fish are an invasive species in the Caribbean and Gulf waters.

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If only the tiger sharks would eat them…

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If you’re visiting with little ones, the Florida Aquarium has a splash park by Ray Cafe, out by the water, which will give them an outlet for excess energy before you head over to the 4D duck theater, which presents shows that are designed for both kids and adults.  Other, interactive presentations happen throughout the day.

Regular price for adults (13-59) is $28.95, seniors (60+) is $26.95, children (3-11) is $23.95 and free for those under 3.  There are add-ons available as well, including a dolphin cruise into the bay, dive experiences and behind the scenes tours.