Award Winning, Kid Friendly Zoo
By BONNIE DEW
How lucky are we to have America's #1 family zoo right in our backyard? Voted the country's best family zoo, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo definitely gets my vote.
The zoo sure has come a long way since September 2003 where my husband and I had our disastrous first date. It was two dollar day at the zoo which made for complete zoological chaos under a pounding Florida sun. But that was then and this is now.
Now featuring more than 1,800 animals housed in natural habitat including "Tamani", a one year old baby African elephant who's new found courage often gets him in trouble with neighboring Rhinos.
The Lowry Park Zoo offers ample free parking and tons to do for the entire family. We specially like the water playground and petting zoo at Wallaroo Station where our toddler will wear herself out safely playing with other kids.
We also really enjoy the Manatee & Aquatic Center where adults and kids enjoy manatees, turtles, numerous fish and reptile species. My husband's favorite is served with french fries at the Cracker Shack where the best barbeque is served daily.
In tune with adults and children alike, the Lowry Park Zoo plans on building and opening two new exhibits per year until 2008. Currently they are working on the new African penguin adventure which is scheduled to open in a few weeks.
While the zoo and it's great diversity is certainly on our top 10 list, it's location is not. Driving to the zoo from our home in St Petersburg can be quite hectic if highway I-275 is congested through downtown Tampa, which forces a tedious drive down Lambright Ave through a not so friendly neighborhood. You'll need more than cute meerkat purring to soothe the stress from that drive.
Our family annual pass expires next month and there is no doubt we will be renewing it. It's a safe play place for kids and the only central Florida attraction park I know where anyone can participate in unique interactive exhibits such as hand feeding giraffes, white rhinos or stingrays.
I'm glad my husband and I gave the zoo a second chance. More than an award winner, the Lowry Park Zoo has become part of a most cherished weekly routine. Try it on for size, I'm sure you will like it too!
Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Telephone: (813) 935-8552
Fax: (813) 935-9486
1101 W. Sligh Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604
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