So, there we stood at the ticket booth... buying annual passes! Now they are looking at me like I've lost my mind. Actually, the annual Zoo Pass is one of the best bargains around. The cost is less than $10 more than the price of four regular admission tickets, and not only does it offer free daytime admission to Lowry Park Zoo, it is good for free or discounted admission to over 150 zoos and aquariums nationwide, 10% gift shop discounts, and more!
This visit came shortly after the zoo opened one summer morning. I wanted to beat the heat and avoid the mid-afternoon storms typical of Florida. It wasn't long before we realized that some of the wildest things we were seeing so far were the dozens of children on field trips from area child care centers and the YMCA. If you can't stand hordes of excited kids running about, limit your visit to summertime afternoons.
The Zoo had added some exhibit areas and new stuff since our previous visit. The most recent addition is Wallaroo Station, an Australian-themed exhibit and activity area.
Open just over a year, Wallaroo Station is a favorite with kids. It is here that they enjoy face-to-face encounters with animals in a petting zoo, on pony rides, and in the area's Kangaroo Walkabout. It is also here where parents can go broke. Many of the rides and activities require up to three tokens which are a hefty $1.00 each. That is true of the Pony Trek, the Tasmanian Tower (a rock climbing experience), the new Wild Australia Ride (a horse-drawn carriage ride through the outback), and the Muster Ride (children ride electric utility vehicle through field of live sheep). Also, the carousel just outside Wallaroo Station requires tokens. Parents, your job is to guide your children to the FREE activities in this area. Those include the Horse Shed, Billabong (water play park), and the Woolshed (a playground).
The Native Florida Wildlife Center is where you will see species that are native to Florida such as the alligator, Florida black bear, Florida panther, flamingos, and the extinct-in-the-wild red wolf.
The Asian Domain houses the very unique sloth bear, camels, leopards, a rhino, tigers, and more. A winding wooden walkway encompasses this area allowing several view of each animals' domain.
Primate World displays monkeys, orangutans, ring-tailed lemurs, and chimpanzees. These large open areas are well designed and allow visitors several vantage points to observe these active zoo inhabitants.
Shows schedules at Lowry Park Zoo vary in location depending on the day of the week, except for the Rhino Keeper Encounter which is at 12:30 p.m. each day and the Alligator Feeding which is only on weekends at 3:00 p.m.. The Manatee Encounter is educational and one of the best ones I've seen. Although the visitor area is small, you get a close-up view and the information is presented in an interesting and simple manner. We missed the Primate Encounter, but we would bet it would be worthwhile as well.
InformationLowry Park Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa and is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. General admission is $23.95 for adults, $21.95 for seniors age 60 and over, $18.50 for children ages 3-11, and children 2 and under are admitted FREE. Parking is FREE.
No outside food or beverages are allowed, but you can have your hand stamped for re-entry if you prefer to picnic in one of the surrounding park areas. Shirts and shoes must be worn at all times. No pets are allowed except for certified service dogs.
Directions from I-275: Exit at Sligh Avenue (Exit 48) just south of Busch Boulevard. Proceed west on Sligh Avenue and the zoo will be on the right-hand side of the road.