AAA Editor Notes
Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W. Sligh Ave., features more than 1,500 animals on 56 acres of natural habitats comprising seven main exhibit areas. In Safari Africa and Ituri Forest, see such animals as elephants, okapi, pygmy hippos, meerkats and rhinos. A crowd-pleasing colony of peppy African penguins shows off its expert swimming skills in a beach-themed exhibit. Come face-to-face with a grey-tongued giraffe while handing him pieces of lettuce, or give treats to and touch a giant tortoise. Get a close-up view of African animals, including elephants, zebras, cheetahs, giraffes and gazelles, on the African Guided Safari, a 15-minute narrated behind-the-scenes tram tour.
The Florida Boardwalk harbors indigenous species such as the red wolf, now extinct in the wild, and the endangered Florida panther. American black bears, river otters, Key deer, wild turkeys, bald eagles and alligators also inhabit the area. Cownose rays glide elegantly in Stingray Bay and invite you to slide your fingers across their smooth backs. In the Asian Gardens, revel in the beauty of such rare or endangered species as Malayan tigers, clouded leopards, Indian rhinoceros and Komodo dragons. Find yourself among colorful birds in the Sulawesi Aviary. In Primate World, chimps, orangutans and other primates will entertain you with their antics.
A small river runs through the Free-Flight Aviary, which features waterfalls, lush tropical foliage and more than 40 species of exotic and tropical birds. Wallaroo Station is an Australian-themed children's zoo where you can walk just a few footsteps away from wallabies and visit koalas. Kids also can ride a pony, pet goats, feed small parrots, cool off in a water play area and ride the Tasmanian Tiger roller coaster or Boomers' Flyin' Bananas.
The Florida Manatee and Aquatic Center and the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Hospital offers manatee viewing both above and below water. Animal shows and rides, including a water flume, round out the zoo's offerings.
Guided tours are available. Food is available. Time: Allow 3 hours minimum.