TAMPA — With indoor activities seemingly less enticing in the current state of affairs, outdoor activities like spending a day at ZooTampa at Lowry Park have become more popular as evidenced by its record year of attendance.
The zoo saw 1,204,115 guests in 2021.
“We started the year with optimism that families were going to continue to seek opportunities to safely enjoy outdoor activities that connect them with nature and each other,” says ZooTampa President and CEO Joe Couceiro in a statement. “Throughout, we continued to champion Florida wildlife, provided exemplary care to all our animals, shared our inspirational stories of conservation; while maintaining a safe and beautifully lush environment, where our guests were entertained, educated, and inspired to join us on our mission to save wildlife and wild places for future generations to enjoy.”
The zoo focused its efforts on conservation of Florida wildlife last year by expanding the fight to save manatees, a species facing an unprecedented year marked by record mortality rates, according to a statement. Since opening its manatee critical care center, ZooTampa has rescued a total of 500 manatees, a milestone it passed in 2021.
The park also added staff members to focus on the Manatee Stranding Network last year and launched the manatee volunteer program to assist in stranding operations. Through the procurement of the ZT Saves retrofitted rescue vehicle, ZooTampa covered more than 6,400 miles, assisting in the rescue, transfer and release of over 40 manatees.
“It is important to acknowledge our community support,” says Couceiro. “We look ahead with excitement to 2022 as we introduce an incredible new species to the Zoo, hamadryas baboons, open the new Florida Wilds area featuring expanded habitats for endangered Florida panthers and black bears, and the introduction of a new state-of-the-art stingray habitat.”