A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
~ Jessica Bartels
Lowry Park is kid friendly. Not only because of the Walaroo Station with splash zones and a petting zoo, but you can also meet a new baby animal each month. Since spring of 2012, Lowry Park Zoo animals have birthed over a dozen babies.
Also, in 2012, the American Black Bear “Blossom” was rescued by the Wildlife Center of Montana. The bear is one of two American Black Bears cubs adopted by the zoo this past year. “Newberry”, the second Black Bear, was found in poor conditions by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
A Pygmy hippo was born at the zoo November 15, 2012. Guests usually see her playful side early in the morning. When the sun comes out, she is ready to swim around in the shallow pond, wrestling with her mother.
It was a busy Christmas for the keepers at the zoo. The first African Elephant, “Mpumi” was born December 23, 2012. She is a descendant of a rare herd of elephants from Swaziland, Africa. Lowry Park and San Diego Zoo rescued 11 of the pachyderm elephants from being cured a decade ago. A red tailed guenon came days later on December 29, 2012. “Ahnmom” has curious big brown eyes that watch the crowd clinging to his mom. The red tail guenon was initially rescued from bush meat markets in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To ring in the new year, a rare okapi, “Bahati”, was born January 6, 2013. This unusually looking animal has the legs and stripes of a zebra, the body structure of a horse, and the face of a giraffe. This animal may look like a mixed breed of all three, but it is only related to the giraffe.
After a short 7 month gestation, a beautiful male South African nyala was born March 24, 2013. “Finley” has faint white stripes, shaggy fur, and spiraled horns. He is also one of the many animals that enjoy a shared habitat. This provides more natural habitat and takes advantage of all available land.
An African penguin hatched May 8, 2013. Her name is “Tampanga”. This third batch of hatchlings at the zoo is covered in thick fuzzy grey fur until their black and white color matures. These penguins live in warm weather and seem to enjoy sunbathing instead of ice fishing.
May 25, 2013 was the birthday of a tiny squirrel monkey. This little guy is agile, but he feels most comfortable on his mother’s back most of the day. The baby is more independent and active when eating fruits in the mornings.
A funny story led to another hatchling. Two first time parents, demoiselle cranes, abandoned their egg. Zookeepers quickly moved the egg under a sand hill crane. Both birds have similar migration tendencies and nesting techniques. The bird hatched on May 25, 2013. It stayed with the adoptive mother, the sandhill crane, until August 1, 2013. The crane has since been placed with its parents and is getting along great.
One of the most important animal births occurred at Lowry Park Zoo this year. The birth of “Jiyo” an Indian rhinoceros, made national news on May 29, 2013. This was the third time in the last 5 years that the zoo has a helped make a major contribution to the conservation of wildlife. This endangered species has a birth weight of 75-100 pounds.
A malnourished Florida manatee was also rescued from the Myakka River in Sarasota on July 7, 2013. “Jobin” was only 55 pounds when he was brought to the zoo. Keepers say he will need a minimal of 2-3 years of care before he will be returned to the wild.
Another mark in history occurred July 29, 2013. “Mavi” an African elephant, was born. This is the second elephant baby born to the rescued elephants of the Swaziland herd. The mother elephant was bred with a bull from a different herd giving the offspring a new DNA structure. “Mavi” and “Mpumi” are the first with this gene pool in the United States.
Is Lowry Park Zoo a new breeding ground? It may be. The male black bellied stork was caught making a nest. This very rare bird could be nesting for his mate. Although an egg has not been spotted yet, spectators believe it is soon to come.
The zoo is open 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m .–5 p.m. excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Tickets are $24.95 for adults $19.95 for children. Annual passes start at $95.00 for two Florida residents. Lowry Park has four special days a year with $6.00 admission for everyone. For more information visit: www.lowryparkzoo.com