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Q&A: Lowry Park Zoo, poverty, presidential travel

Lowry Park: No. 1 zoo?

I heard an ad this week that said Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa is the No. 1 zoo in the United States. It's a nice zoo, but really? By whose measure?

According to the Lowry Park Zoo website (, it is rated "No. 1 all over again. Rated the best zoo in the U.S. by Parents magazine."

So we went to the website of Parents magazine ( and did a search for Lowry Park Zoo.

What we found is that the magazine rated Lowry Park Zoo No. 1 on its list of 10 Best Zoos for Kids (emphasis ours). "When Parents set out to find the top zoos in the country," according to the lead-in to the list, "we identified 50 where kids can pet and often feed the wildlife. Then we narrowed it down to these leaders of the pack that your little tyke will love."

The description goes on to note, in part, that: "It's unbelievable how close kids can get to the animals here," and "since Lowry Park is the only zoo in the country with an accredited preschool and kindergarten on-site, the staff is especially comfortable fielding questions from families."

Parents magazine is published monthly by the Meredith Corp. and had a circulation of more than 2 million in 2011.

If Ask the Times were, it would rate this advertising and marketing claim as half-true. Yes, a great zoo, and top-ranked for children. But claiming to be the No. 1 zoo in the country is a stretch, and not supported by the facts.

The poverty rate

What is the poverty rate in the United States, and how has it changed over the years?

The U.S. Census Bureau definition of poverty is complex because it depends on age, income, geographic differences, the number of people in the household and more. For example, a household of four was judged to be living in poverty if the total income was under $23,021 in 2011. For a family of five, it was $27,251. For two people over 65, the figure was $13,609.

In 2012, the Census Bureau reported that 15 percent of Americans live in poverty. That was 46.5 million people. In Florida, it's 15.3 percent.

In 1973 the U.S. number was 11.1 percent. It jumped to 15.2 percent by 1983, the highest point between 1973 and today. It fell to 11.3 percent by 2000. Since then the trend has been upward: 11.7 percent in 2001, 12.6 percent in 2005, 14.3 percent in 2009 and 15.1 percent in 2010.

Presidential schedules

Is it true that the president and the vice president can't travel in the same plane?

The Secret Service doesn't have a rule that states the president and vice president can't travel on the same airplane or vehicle, but it's often not practical, considering the size of their staffs, security details and media entourage. They also have different schedules.

Ask the Times

Q&A: Lowry Park Zoo, poverty, presidential travel 05/08/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2014 2:57pm]
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