A few days ago, I visited Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo with my granddaughter. We were able to use a couple of those LivingSocial coupons that made our admission half price (regularly $24 each).
We weren't able to bring in coolers for lunch, but who wants to lug those things around anyway. However, we asked and they did let us each bring in a water bottle in our purse. And we enjoyed eating lunch at one of the available cafes.
One of the main highlights for me was feeding the giraffes. There is a platform approach to the giraffe enclosure that makes feeding them a face to face experience. We paid $3 each to feed these exotic creatures a large piece of leaf lettuce.
The zookeeper that monitors these encounters asked us not to pet him. But that was impossible for me, so when he wasn't looking I snuck a pet on the giraffe's whiskery forehead. We also visited exotic bird houses where we saw two beautiful and majestic bald eagles.
Another highlight of the day was at the Lorikeet enclosure. Before entering, we paid $3 each for a tiny cup of fruit nectar. Once inside, the beautiful and brightly colored Lorikeets literally landed on our bodies, our arms, heads and shoulders trying to sip of the sweet drink. At first, it was a bit intimidating, but before long, we were laughing, enjoying it and snapping pictures. In addition, we saw a huge python in the snake house and some interesting singing dogs that captivated us with their howling songs.
A rare and rather exciting moment came when we were viewing the tigers. A group of zookeepers came and called one of the tigers by name and began tossing cantaloupes into the enclosure. The biggest cat growled loudly and pounced towards us with an elegant, yet powerful stride. Followed by the smaller tiger, these gorgeous cats leaped into the pond area, splashing and pawing at the cantaloupes until they could sink their teeth in and capture them.
My granddaughter was delighted by the fact that this zoo has rides and they are mostly free. She rode the refreshing water log ride, the roller coaster and since I was too big to fit into a child's bumper boat, my granddaughter had to experience that ride by herself. But she didn't mind at all. There is a nice variety of rides and interactive children's exhibits to choose from. The camel and pony rides do cost a few dollars, but the experience is well worth it.
It's nice to see these animals have huge enclosures to live in rather than cages like some zoos. And the animals look healthy, active and well cared for. For example, the elephants, rhinos and the giraffes have several acres to roam in. There is a place for the children to pet and brush the hair of a goat as well as pet a llama. In this same area, there is the Wallaroo Station where wallabys run free and children can interact and play with them. We also enjoyed petting the stingrays at Stingray Bay.
At the end of a full day, we felt like we hadn't seen but about half of what there was to see. So, we are definitely planning a return trip.