Charlotte the Porcupine is thrilled and thankful to see ZooTampa on USATODAY’s 10Best list. (Photo courtesy of ZooTampa.)

It’s official: The votes are in, and ZooTampa at Lowry Park and its David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center secured the honor of being named among the ‘Best Zoos’ and ‘Best Zoo Exhibits’ in the 2023 USATODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards.

Coming in at No. 6 among the ‘Best Zoos,’ ZooTampa is recognized as a leader in conservation, animal care and education, as it is home to many critically endangered, threatened and vulnerable species.

Ranking No. 4 on the list of ‘Best Zoo Exhibits,’ the David A Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center is the first nonprofit, acute care facility of its kind specifically dedicated to critical care for wild manatees, and one of just four contracted federally permitted manatee rehabilitation centers in the state of Florida. It continues to be at the forefront of protecting and saving sick, injured and orphaned manatees.

“We are honored to have been recognized in the 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards and thank our guests, members, employees and residents for their continued support throughout the voting process,” said President and CEO Joe Couceiro. “Tampa Bay is an award-winning city in so many areas, and we are proud to add another accolade and point of pride to our amazing community.”

The zoo began in the 1930s as a ‘municipal department’ with just a small number of Florida-native species. Through changes, expansion and upgrades — and decades of dedication from community leaders — ZooTampa has grown into an accredited and award-winning zoo that encompasses 56 acres of naturalistic animal exhibits in a lush, tropical garden setting. With an emphasis on endangered, threatened and vulnerable species from similar climates, the zoo offers educational programming, recreational amenities, up-close animal encounters and engaging seasonal events.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in conservation, education, recreation and research. The zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and recognized as Florida’s leading and most attended zoological cultural institution.

The zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Ave. in Tampa and open seven days a week (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit or follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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