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Nat Geo Wild’s ‘Secrets of the Zoo’ show filmed another season in Tampa

The reality show provides a behind-the-scenes look at ZooTampa.
A camera crew films a manatee rescue at ZooTampa for season one of the "Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa" series.
A camera crew films a manatee rescue at ZooTampa for season one of the "Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa" series. [ Courtesy of ZooTampa ]
Published Jul. 19
Updated Jul. 19

TAMPA — Nat Geo Wild didn’t get enough of ZooTampa at Lowry Park’s loveable residents and those who care for the animals, so the network ordered a second season of Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa.

Guy Nickerson, CEO of Tampa-based Remedy Television + Branded, which produces the series for Nat Geo Wild, said principal photography recently wrapped on the reality show that provides a behind-the-scenes look of ZooTampa.

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Neither Nickerson nor ZooTampa can yet divulge what any of the 12 episodes are about.

Season one, which premiered in January 2020, included episodes that followed the exploits of zoo staff tending to the medical needs of a rescued manatee and detailed the birth of a white rhino.

“The show has shed a bright spotlight on the amazing work that takes place every day at ZooTampa and the incredible connection between our team and the animals entrusted to their care,” Joe Couceiro, CEO of ZooTampa, said via email in a prepared statement.

Season two’s filming had an economic impact on the local economy, according to Remedy Television’s application for a Hillsborough County production incentive.

In the application, the Hillsborough film commission estimates the show spent around $1.8 million in the county during its 89 production days. Expenditures included an estimated 942 hotel room nights, 31 crew hires and “food and equipment.”

Season one spent around $1 million locally.

Typically, productions are eligible to receive 10 percent back on what was spent in the county. Remedy Television’s incentive is structured differently; it’s marketing-based. Remedy Television is eligible for a $95,000 incentive if they promote Hillsborough as a filming destination.

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If goals are met and the incentive is doled out, Nickerson said the money goes to Nat Geo Wild, which funded the series.

The application suggests the production collaborates with the Hillsborough film commission on five social media posts “speaking positively” about filming in the county and two five-minute video testimonials that tout local locations and the impact of film-induced tourism.

According to a 2013 Visit Florida survey, 22 percent of domestic tourists in Florida said something they saw on film or television contributed to their decision to visit the state.

Couceiro said ZooTampa’s current “record year” can be “partly” attributed to season one.

“Our research indicates that 20 percent of respondents identify Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa as the source of how they heard about our zoological park,” he said. “We have also had success incorporating the show’s stars into our special event and member programming, creating a Secrets of the Zoo Signature Encounter tour and Speakers of the Wild event, which quickly sold out.”

The incentive application says the second season is tentatively scheduled to premiere in the fourth quarter of 2021.