Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has always been a traditional stop for me each time I’ve been to the area. Known as a mecca for Florida Wildlife Conservation, it is home to the non-profit David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Hospital. No sick, injured, or orphaned manatee is ever turned away. Its statistics are impressive. To-date, out of 360 manatees, more than 200 have been returned to their natural environment. (See: Lowry Park Zoo/manatee.)
This year, from early Spring through May 31, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has been transformed with a cultural heritage extravaganza from China: Zoominations, a Chinese Lantern Festival of Lights. A team of 40 craftsman and women from Zigong journeyed to Tampa and created Zoominations combining the ancient lantern making trade with modern technology using wire frames, LED lights, and silks. The Zigong Lantern Festival has its roots in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). Tampa visitors travel through a Chinese Gate, a replica of the nine gates in Nanjing’s Forbidden City. The Manfeilong Pagoda is handcrafted from 70,000 porcelain cups and saucers. Legend has it that 2,000 years ago a significant Buddhist deity named Shakyamuni visited this pagoda to aid the people. (See: Zoominations, a Chinese Lantern Festival and be sure to catch the video.)
Diplomacy is now as much an art, communicated by more than words, and among citizens directly. As you wander through a Tunnel of Light and are immersed in dancing
flowers, dragons, pandas, zebras, giraffes, peacocks, and elephants all made from lanterns,
you are sensually transformed into a synesthete and a child of wonder. (See: Synesthesia – “Do You See or Taste Music?”)
Light contributes to sustainable growth in health, agriculture, education, and energy and is a catalyst to surmounting challenges around the globe. (See: “Let There Be Light!“) The Zoominations amazing display of light is a beacon of hope to foster greater cultural heritage appreciation understanding.
PHOTOS: All from personal collection