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ZooTampa unveils 20-year expansion plan

The zoo envisions immersive wildlife experiences across multiple habitats.

TAMPA, Fla. — ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced new plans for future expansion and the transformation of the zoo over the next 20 years. 

From a new nature and entertainment district to connect residents and zoo visitors to the riverfront, to immersive wildlife exhibits, the expansion will enhance visitors' experiences.

"ZooTampa is raising funds for the planned $125 million transformation, which will progressively increase opportunities for friends and families to form lasting connections with animals, expand public education initiatives, and drive local and regional economic growth," the zoo said in a news release. 

The zoo is planning for a new South America-themed section that will include a nature and entertainment zone that expands public access to the city of Tampa's commitment to nature, wildlife and green spaces, ZooTampa says. Zoo leaders say the transformation will increase economic activity by 42 percent in Hillsborough County and bring in nearly $1 million in additional tax dollars for the county annually.

New innovative habitats have been carefully designed for mammals, including Florida's manatees in rescue and rehabilitation. The changes also include an updated entrance for the more than 1.2 million guests that visit year-round.

"As our world-class Tampa Bay community continues to evolve, we will raise the bar on distinctive and interactive conservation experiences with the potential to engage and inspire future generations," President and CEO Joe Couceiro said in a statement.

The transformation is already underway. It began earlier in 2022 with the opening of Florida Wilds, which features expanded habitats for endangered and threatened native species. 

"Our plans will energize the community, improving the quality of life for neighbors and area residents," Couceiro added.

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