Edge of Africa is a series of walk-through habitats covering 15 acres along the southwest corner of the Serengeti Plain. Along with being able to get up close to several African species, the area also has several vantage points looking onto the Serengeti Plain.

Fast Facts:

Official Open Date: July 4, 1997
Location: Edge of Africa (Area)


Today

Edge of Africa is home to a number of animals. Those species represented in different habitats include:

  • African Crested Porcupine
  • Hippos
  • Hyenas
  • Lemurs
  • Lions
  • Meerkats
  • Nile Crocodile

Previous species that were on habitat in Edge of Africa include:

  • Lesser Flamingos & African Fowl
  • Spur Winged Geese

For more on each species, visit their individual pages linked above.



History

An article in the Orlando Sentinel in August 1996 stated that while an official announcement wasn’t coming until September 11, Busch Gardens’ next major project would be a 15-acre African animal exhibit, carved out of the 75-acre Serengeti Plain. The new area would be “fence free” and showcase several species up close, including hippos, lions, hyenas, meerkats, and vultures.

The official announcement came on October 7, 1996, when the park released the first details on Edge of Africa. The announcement stated the area would be a walk through safari where it looks like a village has been taken over by wild animals, including lions, baboons, and more. A fishing village would be the setting for the beginning of the walking tour, where guests would be able to see hippos up close. The area was set to open in the summer of 1997. The cost of the project was not revealed.

Thom Stork, Vice President of Marketing for Busch Gardens, said the addition wasn’t meant as a direct response to Disney’s Animal Kingdom which was then under construction and due to open in 1998. Instead, he said Edge of Africa was in development for three years as a response to guests wanting to get closer to animals.

Edge of Africa officially opened to guests on July 4, 1997.

As part of the Cheetah Hunt project, work began in April 2010 on a new pathway leading from Nairobi, near the train station, into Edge of Africa around the lion & hyena habitats. The pathway opened to guests that summer.

In the days leading up to Halloween 2010, the animals in Edge of Africa were treated to some special enrichment in the form of carved pumpkins. The park released a video showing the fun:

At the end of Summer 2012, part of Edge of Africa was closed for over a month to reseal glass at the hippo and Nile crocodile habitats. Over the summer, small leaks were beginning to form at the seals of the windows, which had been installed for the exhibit opening in 1997. The crocodile, lemurs, and ducks were moved to behind-the-scenes habitats. The thousands of fish were collected and temporarily moved to SeaWorld Orlando. The three hippos were left on site, with the moat on the backside of the habitat modified to be used for them to swim in while work on the windows of the main pool took place. Once drained, all of the surfaces of the pool were pressure washed, and the old sealant was removed from the glass edges and replaced. Other work around the pool included moving and replacing some of the theming elements, and installing new enrichment devices for the hippos to enjoy upon their return.

As part of Reptile-Palooza held on March 30, 2013, special up-close encounters with reptiles took place at the education station across from the lion &hyena habitats from noon to 3 p.m. on that day.



On March 19, 2015, work walls were erected to block off the pathway at the Lesser Flamingo habitat on the southeast corner of Edge of Africa as work was set to begin on the new 2016 attraction project in Egypt. The flamingos and other birds from that habitat were temporarily relocated to other spots in the park during the construction.

For two weeks at the end of March and the beginning of April 2015, special keeper talks were scheduled on Tuesdays through Thursdays at 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the small habitat opposite the meerkats. The habitat, which previously was home to spur-winged geese, was used during the talks for the two new cheetah cubs who recently arrived at the park.

By the beginning of April 2015, the southeastern corner of Edge of Africa had been demolished as part of the 2016 attraction project. This area was formerly the loading area for the Serengeti Safari Tour before it moved closer to Nairobi along the new pathway built five years earlier. All of the pathways, theming and most of the foliage in that section were removed.

In celebration of the second annual World Giraffe Day, keepers were available with special activities at the Serengeti plain overlook near the meerkats on June 20, 2015.

At the beginning of 2017, a newly designated Edge of Africa area was created by combining the Edge of Africa habitats, the former Cheetah Hunt area, and moving Serengeti Overlook from Egypt.

In late Spring 2017, the former spur-winged geese habitat across from the meerkats was being refurbished.

 

Additional details on Edge of Africa will be added in the future.


Sources:

BGTNation | April 2010 – accessed 9/26/2017
Lakeland Ledger | Jul 4 1997 – accessed 1/22/2018
Orlando Sentinel | Oct 8 1996 – accessed 3/22/2018
Orlando Sentinel | Aug 8 1996 – accessed 3/22/2018
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay | Oct 2 2012 – accessed 4/22/2018
Busch Gardens Tampa | Mar 20 2015 – accessed 7/18/2018
Twitter – @MyBuschGardens | Jul 9 2010 – accessed 12/7/2018
Busch Gardens Tampa | Mar 26 2013 – accessed 1/27/2019
Busch Gardens Tampa | Jun 12 2015 – accessed 6/24/2019
Twitter – @androckb | Mar 19 2015 – accessed 10/28/2020
Twitter – @androckb | Apr 4 2015 – accessed 10/28/2020
Touring Central Florida | Jun 10 2017 – accessed 11/7/2019

 

Last update: December 17, 2020