By Alison Schodtler
Edited by Linda Ruble
What child doesn’t like seeing different types of animals from all over the world, and how many parents wouldn’t love a fun, safe and educational place to bring their children for a family fun adventure? A place like this may be closer than it seems.
In Tampa, Florida, just off Sligh Avenue, is Tampa Lowry Park Zoo. Lowry Park Zoo isn’t just any zoo. It focuses not only on the animals and helping the environment, but also on creating a family friendly atmosphere.
Lowry Park Zoo has several endangered animals. One of the zoo’s programs that has made a major impact on the animal’s decreasing population is the manatee hospital. “The story of the manatees at Tampa Lowry Park Zoo spans 25 years and over 360 treated manatees, since the David A. Straz Jr. manatee hospital opened in 1991.” The manatee program has helped rehabilitate and release back into the wild many manatees that were either injured, sick, or orphaned. Manatees, who were nearly an extinct species, have now been recently taken off the endangered species list. Another animal for whom this zoo has helped protect and raise awareness is the Borean Orangutan. Unfortunately, these amazing creatures natural habitat is being destroyed by the increased need for palm oil. With the loss of their habitat, they are either being killed, sold into the illegal pet trade, or starved to death. While helping orangutan outreach, the zoo also has other campaigns that help the Borean Orangutans and inform the people.
Lowry Park Zoo has many options for people wishing to participate in helping other animals. One of the easiest ways to help take care of animals at the zoo is by visiting. “About 80% of the funds they used to operate comes from money they earned throughout daily operations.” There is also an option to donate, or adopt an animal. There are three donation packages, each with different payment plans and each one with gifts. Also, volunteering doesn’t require spending money, but still allows people to get involved with supporting the zoo and the animals. Lowry Park Zoo’s website has PDF files with more in-depth information about these opportunities.
Lowry Park Zoo has many initiatives to help the animals and help protect the environment, including, multiple water conservation projects that are helping save the water, plus keep it clean. The zoo is not only focused on water, but also recycling and energy. There recycling bins are widely distributed throughout the zoo, animal feces is recycled through local fertilizer plants. Along with recycling, the zoo also has programs to teach students in local schools about recycling. Solar panels are utilized in the African exhibit to help power that vicinity using sunlight.
Lowry Park Zoo is not only involved with the animals and helping the environment, but also making sure the park is family friendly. These include attractions such as a splash park, petting zoo, multiple rides and a few opportunities that allow up close and personal interaction with wild animals. While offering many family friendly activities, Lowry Park Zoo has a few individual experiences for children such as hosting birthday parties, VIP tours that allow the children to get a behind-the-scene look at Lowry Park, and sleepovers. One of the bigger activities that involves children is their zoo school program. “The Florida Environmental Education Center or “Zoo School” offers exciting educational experiences for everyone. From tots and teens to schools and organizations, we are dedicated to offering fun, innovative, imaginative and investigative learning programs for all ages.”
When it comes to spending family time, there is no better place than Lowry Park Zoo. Their involvement with the environment, animals, and children is outstanding and is just one of the many reasons why Lowry Park is a phenomenal facility.