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“Great Alternative to Busch Gardens”

ZooTampa at Lowry Park
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Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo Admission
Ranked #24 of 201 things to do in Tampa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: ZooTampa at Lowry Park is home to more than 1300 animals and famous for having one of the most beautiful, tropical zoological settings in the world. The Zoo brings together animals and visitors to create unforgettable, natural connections. Guests get closer to wildlife than ever before by touching a giant tortoise, feeding a giraffe, getting nose-to-horn with an Indian rhino, hand-to-fin with slippery stingrays and more! Families can also splash in water play areas, feel thrills on rides and take in educational shows. Love manatees? The Zoo is the only place in Tampa where guests can see Florida manatees year round. At the David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital, the Zoo’s veterinary and animal-care staff treat sick, injured and orphaned manatees, and return them to the wild after rehabilitation. The Zoo also cares for the most diverse group of Florida wildlife anywhere, and has won numerous awards for animal preservation.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed March 2, 2014

When a visiting friend mentioned spending a day at Busch Gardens in Tampa, the weather made me think twice; over $200 including parking, no discounts for "non amusement riders" and a 40% chance of rain. Let's face it, trying to get $200 worth of fun on a rainy day at Busch Gardens wouldn't be most folks' idea of a good time. Neighbors had mentioned the Lowry Park Zoo, so my guest and I opted for the less (much less!) expensive option. (We paid about $24 per person and spent several hours there, a $150 savings easily. You can find discount coupons at most travel centers and kiosks.) The Zoo was easy to find with my gps system and there was not much traffic. We arrived late morning on a Monday, enjoyed free parking and no crowds to fight. This zoo packs an excellent facility into a relatively small land parcel. The animal habitats were very clean, well cared for and several were closed for renovations and upgrades; an excellent indication that the animals' welfare is of the highest priority. The employees at the Zoo were friendly, helpful, courteous and all seemed very knowledgeable about the facility. The elephant exhibit was my favorite; two babies who seemed determined to make everyone adore them with their cuteness, activities and beauty while their mothers kept a watchful eye over them. There was a young orangutan interacting with the adults in their habitat; all were having an enjoyable day. There was a young giraffe with it's mother; a very cute baby (part of the cuteness was the animal's enormous size despite being a baby). Really well kept reptile houses along with other "special needs" exhibits were also well run and clean and provided the atmosphere appropriate for the individual creatures. Walkways were clearly marked and well maintained, landscaping beautifully maintained with large and old growth trees shading most of the paths. Most of the plantings are native Florida shrubs and trees with a sprinkling of bamboo stands throughout the Zoo, food for the pandas of course. Bird habitats were especially nice and allowed for good views for bird watchers and photographers, while keeping the birds in a low stress environment. In the center of the zoo is a beautiful (and beautifully cared for) carousel with all manner of exquisite creatures to ride. There did not seem to be a charge for this ride and there were a few children enjoying the carousel with adults. As another writer mentioned, there is a wide variety of animals at Lowry Park Zoo, some I'd never heard of and enjoyed learning about. We were unaware of the cockatoo "flyover", which takes place twice daily. It is quite spectacular, involving at least ten or so of the very large and beautifully colored birds (the brochure clearly describes the events, but we neglected to read about it) and the surprise was part of its charm. The only reason this review is "very good" instead of "excellent" is the dirty bathrooms we encountered as we entered the Zoo. I mentioned it to a staff member who received the information courteously and advised she'd have the maintenance crew look after it. Other than that, I must say this Zoo trumps Busch Gardens in a lot of ways. I would absolutely suggest it to anyone visiting the Tampa area who might find Busch Gardens too large or too expensive. (As an aside, readers and fans of Tim Dorsey's books will find numerous machineslocated throughout the Zoo. For $2.00, these machines will manufacture and mold wax or plastic animals and creatures to bring home as souvenirs. These machines are mentioned in one of Mr. Dorsey's wonderful books and I must confess, I indulged my Inner Serge and purchased several. Fun!)

1  Thank Auntie1949
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"nice zoo"
in 208 reviews
"petting zoo"
in 140 reviews
"manatee hospital"
in 57 reviews
"tampa zoo"
in 60 reviews
"safari ride"
in 99 reviews
"local zoo"
in 36 reviews
"feed a giraffe"
in 36 reviews
"all ages"
in 137 reviews
"kiddie rides"
in 34 reviews
"cool off"
in 37 reviews
"splash pad"
in 50 reviews
"annual pass"
in 53 reviews
"behind the scenes"
in 36 reviews
"animal exhibits"
in 51 reviews
"great for kids"
in 33 reviews
"whole family"
in 52 reviews
"busch gardens"
in 116 reviews

2,308 - 2,312 of 3,406 reviews

Reviewed February 28, 2014

This zoo is a great zoo for both children and adults. We have visited several zoos and this one has such different animals we have not seen anywhere else. The written signs explaining the animals are brief and helpful, but could contain a bit more information. It is a very clean setting and animals appear well cared for. You can touch a stingray and pet several other animals. Staff are very informative. The only downsides are the pricey admission and need for more bathrooms. We were always standing in line to use the facilities. We were there 5 hours, including an hour for lunch.

1  Thank Patti501
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2014

This a cute, small zoo in Tampa - but has oversold itself as a great zoo. We visited with two adults, no children. It would be a great place with children younger than 9, rides are included (exception is the horses). It could be much better with a bit of cleaning and more educational information. When I asked about animal feeding schedules I was told that we could feed some of the animals for a fee, usually zoos will tell you when certain animals will be fed so you can watch. The tram ride was only running one train, so our wait would have been 40 minutes. This was a weekday with several school groups and high season in Florida. The fee to enter is very high for this zoo, the yearly pass is reasonable, but for visitors the one day fee is very high. Parking is free. This would be a fun alternative to Busch Gardens for young children.

1  Thank Starbuck48
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2014

We enjoyed how well all of the animals looked and this zoo is very accessible for the physically handicapped.

1  Thank Kathryn D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 25, 2014

We went to this zoo on valentines day! It was me, my husband and 7 year old daughter spent about $60 for the three of us and had a blast! Staff are all friendly prices are reasonable and we ended up spending about half the day walking around seeing everything! Your able to feed the birds and giraffes, there is a petting zoo, and even pony rides!

1  Thank Mhazzard23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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