Giving guests a chance to observe procedures up close, the Animal Care Center at Busch Gardens Tampa pulls back the curtain on what is often done behind the scenes at most facilities. Along with being able to see procedures being done on animals in the park’s collection and wildlife cases brought in for rescue, guests can also meet animal ambassadors and learn about the diets and nutrition of different species in the show kitchen. Scenes for the popular television show Wildlife Docs are filmed here as well.
Official Open Date: January 23, 2012
Replaced: Rhino Habitat
In late April 2011, construction walls were erected around much of the rhino habitat in Nairobi, across from the elephant habitat.
On May 4, 2011, Busch Gardens Tampa announced a new Animal Care & Nutrition Center would open on the site of the former rhino habitat. As part of the press release, a video was posted with “Jungle” Jack Hanna hosting the announcement:
The full press release:
Busch Gardens will welcome guests to closely observe and even take part in the animal care experience when the Tampa park opens its new Animal Care & Nutrition Center this winter. From nutrition to treatments, X-rays to surgeries, much of Busch Gardens’ animal care will be conducted in guest view in this new state-of-the-art facility.
“We are proud of the care we provide our animals,” said Mike Boos, vice president of zoological operations. “We welcome the opportunity to share our level of care with our guests, and to continue our mission of connecting guests to animals and the natural world. No other zoological facility will offer the unique, up-close experience that this new facility will offer.”
The new, nearly 16,000 square-foot facility will be built where the rhino exhibit is currently located in the Nairobi area of the park. The park’s current animal care center is located behind the scenes.
“What many people probably don’t realize is that our veterinarians, technicians and animal care staff spend most of their day confirming the health of our animals by doing preventative efforts such as annual physicals and checkups,” said Bill Street, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Corporate Curator of Conservation and Education. “There are great lessons we can share with guests by offering this up-close look at our high level of animal care.”
The two major guest components of the new facility will be a nutrition center and treatment rooms. The nutrition center will feature a kitchen similar in set-up to a cooking show on television. Educators will lead demonstrations several times a day on the planning and preparation of animal diets. Guests will even have the chance to assist in preparing and doling out the range of food the park provides its animals, from fruits and vegetables to crickets and mealworms.
The treatment center will allow guests to watch as Busch Gardens’ skilled vets do preventative checkups, treatments and surgeries on animals. Guests will be able to see into the rooms through glass walls, and audio capabilities will allow guests to talk to vets working behind the glass. Cameras placed over the exam table will show unique vantage points to guests who can watch on monitors. During treatments and surgeries, zoo educators will also be on hand to talk about what’s taking place.
In addition to the guest views, the new facility will also include animal recovery rooms, vet offices and research stations. Guests can also participate in a diagnostic exercise by scanning an interactive activity card at several stations as they follow an animal from diagnosis to treatment to blood and lab work to a final outcome.
Some of the concept art for the Animal Care Center shows the overall look of the building, as well as a glimpse of what the viewing area into the procedure rooms would look like to guests.
In late August 2011, the park shared a few images of construction progress on the Animal Care Center on their blog.
A media event was held on January 12, 2012 to show off the new Animal Care Center ahead of its official opening. Jack Hanna was on hand, and the uniqueness of the center in how it plainly shows guests exactly how the park’s animals are care for was touted. The nutrition center, treatment rooms, clinical lab, and interactive diagnostic center were all shown off as part of the media tour.
On the Fourth of July 2014, a southern American Bald Eagle was found unable to fly at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Park staff, military police, and a local wildlife rehabilitator rescued the injured eagle. Upon arrival at the Animal Care Center, Busch Gardens veterinary care staff assessed the eagle and found one of the wings had broken bones. The break was wrapped in red, white and blue bandage tape to support it until surgery was performed on July 7.
Additional images and details on Animal Care Center will be added in the future.
Behind the Thrills | Apr 28 2011 – accessed 12/24/2017
Orlando Theme Park News | May 5 2011 – accessed 12/24/2017
Busch Gardens Tampa | Aug 26 2011 – accessed 12/24/2017
Behind the Thrills | Jan 5 2012 – accessed 12/24/2017
Behind the Thrills | Jan 13 2012 – accessed 12/24/2017
Busch Gardens Tampa | Jul 7 2014 – accessed 12/28/2017