Edge of Africa is a series of walk-through habitats covering 15 acres along the southwest corner of the Serengeti Plain.

Fast Facts:

Official Open Date: July, 4 1997


Today

Edge of Africa is home to a number of animals. Those species represented on habitat include:

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

For more on each species, visit their individual pages.


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, baboon 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 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 on a new pathway leading from Nairobi, near train station, into Edge of Africa near the lion & hyena habitats in April 2010.

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 along the hippo and Nile crocodile habitat. 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 back side 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.

For two weeks at the end of March and 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 was used during the talks for the two new cheetah cubs who recently arrived at the park.

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.

 

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