December 7, 2023

Coming sometime to ZooTampa at Lowry Park: lions, jaguars, sea lions and a complete good deal much more manatees. Plus a immediate website link to the Hillsborough River, as a result of which visitors may perhaps 1 day be in a position to arrive at the zoo by river taxi.

These are among the the highlights of a new 20-year, $125 million expansion task that zoo leaders are developing with Tampa officers, and that the zoo plans to existing to town leaders quickly.

The challenge would contain expanded African and Asian habitats and a new South American habitat on the grounds of the park’s upkeep facilities, nestled inside of Lowry Park across North Boulevard.

“Our strategies are heading to revitalize that space, but we manufactured a acutely aware work not to intrude on the environmentally friendly place of the park alone,” ZooTampa CEO and president Joe Couceiro mentioned. “We’re likely to be boosting the public accessibility to the land which is at present taken up by the maintenance facility. This is nevertheless a get the job done in progress with the city, as much as the facts encompassing that relocation. But that is in which the growth is going to be.”

This rendering shows a proposed water taxi arrival area by Tampa's Lowry Park, part of a planned 20-year, $125 million expansion of ZooTampa at Lowry Park.
This rendering displays a proposed water taxi arrival place by Tampa’s Lowry Park, part of a planned 20-yr, $125 million expansion of ZooTampa at Lowry Park. [ ZooTampa at Lowry Park ]

The extensive-time period undertaking will start off with two developments presently underway: An expanded interactive stingray exhibit slated to open next yr, and an expanded manatee rehabilitation and care heart predicted to open up by 2026.

Linked: ZooTampa will reopen stingray habitat in which 12 rays died very last year

Immediately after that, the zoo will open up an show committed to the wildlife of South The us, together with jaguars, sea lions and large river otters.

“Due to our temperate local climate, we’re one of the several zoos in the nation that can actually dwelling these species that are indigenous to South The usa with out putting them indoors,” Couceiro stated.

This rendering shows a proposed South American sea lion habitat at ZooTampa at Lowry Park.
This rendering shows a proposed South American sea lion habitat at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. [ ZooTampa at Lowry Park ]

Friends will be equipped to enter ZooTampa through the South The usa aspect by using a new entrance together Lowry Park, which would have stores, eateries and an entertainment place available to the general public. A skybridge throughout North Boulevard would join the japanese Lowry Park aspect to the relaxation of ZooTampa.

Ultimately, the zoo will construct out its African region by introducing lions, a gorilla habitat and making a new multispecies area for elephants, giraffes and white rhinos as properly as its Asian habitats for orangutans and tigers. One eventual expertise that Couceiro highlighted: the opportunity to camp out right away in “cabana-like facilities” around the lion enclosure, “a one of a kind and unique presenting that other zoos, as significantly as I’m aware, do not supply.”

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This rendering shows a proposal for a redeveloped African habitat at ZooTampa.
This rendering shows a proposal for a redeveloped African habitat at ZooTampa. [ ZooTampa at Lowry Park ]

The zoo, like Lowry Park, sits on town-owned land, and would need to have town partnership for enlargement. Couceiro said zoo leaders have been speaking about the undertaking with progress officers for a year and a half. Zoo officers experienced prepared to current a proposal for the enlargement at Thursday’s Metropolis Council meeting, but Couceiro mentioned they would seek out particular person meetings with users as an alternative.

“ZooTampa is a community treasure, and we appear forward to examining the parts of the proposed growth that call for City of Tampa approval,” Tampa administrator for advancement and financial opportunity Nicole Travis explained in a assertion.

The zoo designs to seek the two community and private financing for the job, Couceiro mentioned. The zoo is mostly self-funded, he stated, and will also use funds from its individual coffers.

“We have a extensive way to go, but we experience that about the future 20 years, $125 million is doable,” he said. “It’s some thing that I assume we can dwell with, as much as return on expenditure.”

A proposed South American river otter habitat.
A proposed South American river otter habitat. [ ZooTampa at Lowry Park ]

The announcement will come just 4 months immediately after yet another Tampa wildlife establishment, the Florida Aquarium, announced a main expansion of its possess, a $40 million challenge that will contain new habitats for sea lions, puffins and African penguins.

Linked: Florida Aquarium plans $40 million enlargement with puffin, sea lion habitats

“We do not truly contend we complement each individual other,” Couceiro reported. “We by now have some points that they have. We have penguins, they have penguins. We have stingrays, they have stingrays. I never consider the truth that we might have some copy species impacts us in any way.”

The aquarium growth is predicted to operate into 2025. With a 20-12 months timeline, ZooTampa’s expansion will operate until eventually 2042, when many young visitors currently may possibly be returning with children of their have.

“Yes, it is a extensive horizon, but we have ways along the way that we have prepared out to make positive that we’re not resting on our laurels or on the lookout as well considerably into the foreseeable future,” Couceiro mentioned. “We want to make confident we deliver an experience that at the existing offers the style of price that Tampa inhabitants and people alike are seeking for and can choose edge of.”

Another rendering of the proposed African habitat.
An additional rendering of the proposed African habitat. [ ZooTampa at Lowry Park ]