ZooTampa at Lowry Park says it was one of Florida's most-attended cultural attractions by again breaking its own record, welcoming 1,171,319 guests in fiscal year 2023, which ended on Sept. 30. It was the third consecutive year of record attendance, the zoo says.
The zoo says it also expanded its leadership in wildlife preservation by sending staff to various countries to participate in field conservation and education projects.
"We are proud of our role as the destination for families to come together, be entertained, and connect with each other and wildlife," says ZooTampa's CEO Joe Couceiro. "We also celebrate our continued commitment to the conservation and preservation of wildlife not only in our backyards, but also around the world."
Zoo officials noted some of the conservation accomplishments during the 2023 fiscal year. They include:
- ZooTampa assisted Florida officials with 54 manatee rescues, transports and verifications, and helped with operations on the eastern coast during the winter's "unusual mortality event." The David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center took in 34 manatees and released 14 back to Florida waters. Additionally, the team is working to monitor two new wildlife-crossing cameras between Tampa and Lakeland.
- The zoo's Animal Care, Education and Conservation team members participated in field projects providing expertise and supporting conservation programs with an elephant-human relations organization in Namibia, Africa; a macaw recovery network in Costa Rica; and the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds.
- Significant births: New members of the zoo family include six endangered Komodo dragons; two critically endangered red wolf pups; a nyala; bay duiker; and lorikeets.
The Zoo is billing 2024 as the “Year of More” with the following new additions:
• Stingray Shores: The new interactive habitat opening this winter features the opportunity for guests to touch and feed graceful stingrays, the zoo says.
• Australia: The completely reimagined family area includes a new ride: Aussie Trek, presented by Outback, which will feature opportunities for parents and their kids to go on a safari and learn about the land down under's unique wildlife. The area will open Spring 2024.
• Prehistoric Predators: At this limited-time special event taking place January through April, guests will come face to face with giant animatronic ferocious predators of the past.
• David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center expansion: As one of only two critical care centers in the United States able to care for orphaned manatees, ZooTampa is expanding its capacity with the addition of two 16,500-gallon treatment areas, zoo officials say.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent charitable organization. The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa, and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas), with extended hours for select events.