Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, Florida

Intro / Description

I’ve wanted to visit the Lowry Park zoo in Tampa, Florida for a long time.  I finally made it over there for the first time last week with fellow Photography Interest Group member Tom M.

This non-profit zoo opened in 1957.  It’s 56 acres in size and houses more than 1500 animals including many native Florida species.  There are eight major areas in the zoo, divided into typical habitats.  Some of them are quite large and natural and there are also free flight aviaries with a variety of birds to interact with.

Hornbill
A Sulawesi Tarictic Hornbill at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida

We spent a good bit of time in “Primate World” watching the family of Orangutans.  The young one (I think this is RanDee, born in August 2008) was full of energy, swinging all around on the platforms and ropes.  The adults watched her with very human-like  “where does she get the energy” looks.  Finally, RanDee rested for a bit behind her mom (DeeDee).

Resting behind mom
Resting behind mom – A young orangutan rests after play.

Parents.com has rated this zoo #1 for kids in the US based on the strength of its educational programs, safety, hands on exhibits and other factors.  But I rate it highly for photographers too – based on the many available, close and unobstructed views.  One example is the Giraffe feeding station.  You can buy food for the kids to give to the Giraffes, but if you’re a photographer, you can stand to the side and photograph the animals from very close range.  There are also a number of children’s rides at the zoo.  These can be great family photo ops – so don’t forget to use your camera there.

Info for Photographers

Hours are 9:30 to 5, every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas and admission is $24.95 for adults, which is a relative bargain when compared to theme parks costs.   Parking is plentiful, close and free.  I think many of the photo-ops are even better than at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (and cheaper too).

Their photography policy is fairly standard:  photos / video are permitted “for personal use”.  Permission is required in advance if your photos or video will be used for commercial purposes.

Eye contact
Eye contact – A Mandrill evaluates my camera technique.  And doesn’t seem to like it.

Photo hints:

Travel as light as you can, you’ll be walking a good bit.

Tripod/Monopod:  I didn’t see any signs allowing or prohibiting tripods and I didn’t see anyone using one.  I usually leave mine at home for zoo visits, since it’s easy to find something to prop your camera on to steady it, and using a tripod when it’s crowded can block other visitors.

Lenses:

A moderate to long (or all in one) zoom would be the best single lens to bring.  At this zoo, you can sometimes get quite close to many of the animals so a shorter focal length is handy too.

Best time to visit:

If you’re a Florida resident, you already know that the cool time of the year is best for outdoor parks.  Arrive as early in the day as possible.  You’ll beat some of the crowds and the animals are more active then.

Other:

A few of the animals are behind glass, so you might want to bring a polarizing filter – although you can probably make do by placing your lens right up against the glass to avoid reflections.  A small flash may be handy in some instances to fill in shadows.

Do a little research before you go to make sure you’re up to date on recent arrivals.  The young ones are extra fun to see.  As I watched Mpumi make her way across the elephant enclosure (closely watched by two adult females), I remarked  “cute baby”.  The woman standing next to me (holding her own infant) said “thank you”.  Her baby – which I hadn’t noticed before then, was cute too.

Baby elephant Mpumi
Baby elephant Mpumi – She was born in December 2012.

This zoo has had some controversies.  But it seems well run now and the animals appear happy and well cared for.  They’re also participating in many conservation projects and have a manatee hospital where injured animals are treated and released.

Summary

As usual, you can click on these photos to go to Flickr, where you can see larger versions.  You can also see a few more photos from the Lowry Park Zoo in this set on Flickr.

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157632970940629/with/8550695583/
Website:  http://www.lowryparkzoo.com
Address / Phone: 1101 West Sligh Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604-5958
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  Great for the kids, photo-ops for the grown ups

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, Florida

  1. Hi Ed,
    Man, you are on a roll lately! Another excellent blog that provides photographers with all the details they need to get the most from a local photo op. keep up the great work!
    Jeff Stamer

  2. As ever, beautifully written: simple and clear, and lots of info – and with stunning shots. It’s like taking a virtual trip there – love it!

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