Opening in the summer of 1970, Boma continued the expansion of animal attractions at Busch Gardens with a variety of species exhibited in several habitats.
Open Date: Summer 1970
Present Day: Nairobi & Myombe Reserve
An expansion was announced by the park on March 26, 1969, comprising of a man-made mountain housing nocturnal creatures and a forested area where other animals could be seen at a close range from foot trails. At that time, the project was estimated to come at a cost of $900,000 with construction set to begin on May 1, 1969, and opening late in the year.
By the time it opened in the summer of 1970, the project was estimated at costing a million dollars. Unlike the sprawling Wild Animal Kingdom (now referred to as the Serengeti Plain) where guests could only view wildlife at a distance from the monorail, train, and later the Skyride, Boma was more like a traditional zoo where guests could walk around smaller habitats to view the animals. Boma was advertised as meaning “small animal enclosure” in Swahili.
A brochure and map from 1970 list the anticipated completion of Boma in June of that year. The brochure noted that exhibits would include a seal and otter pool, a contact area where animals could be fed and petted, and other birds and mammals on display. Also part of Boma was a nursery & kitchen facility, and Nocturnal Mountain (later Curiosity Caverns), where guests could walk through and see specially lighted enclosures featuring 13 species of nocturnal animals.
An Orlando Sentinel article on May 27, 1970, noted the new area would be previewed on June 5 as part of an announcement of future development plans at Busch Gardens. The article describes Boma as “a two and one half acre planted forest where young animals may be viewed at extremely close range from foot paths located throughout the area.” The piece goes on to note Boma was expected to open to the public on July 1.
In the early 1970s, additions to Boma included elephant rides and a children’s play area. A 1974 map lists area attractions including an otter pool, free-flight aviary, and animal contact area, as well as a snack bar and gift shop near the Nairobi train station. Strollers and wheelchairs could also be rented at a stand near the front of the area, which is the present-day Caravan Crossing gift shop.
In 1976, the area was renamed Nairobi after the nearby train station and continued to expand with an animal nursery and other improvements. Today, Myombe Reserve occupies much of the land that was part of the original Boma.
Click each thumbnail to see the full-size image.
Additional details on Boma will be added in the future.
Chicago Tribune | Jul 12 1970 – accessed 12/23/2016
Park Maps – 1970, 1974, 1976 – Author’s Collection
Park Brochure – 1970 – Author’s Collection
Orlando Sentinel | May 27 1970 – accessed 11/6/2022
Orlando Sentinel | Jun 6 1970 – accessed 11/6/2022
Orlando Evening Star | Mar 27 1969 – accessed 7/4/2023
Orlando Sentinel | Mar 27 1969 – accessed 7/5/2023
The Evening Independent | Feb 3 1976 – accessed 7/10/2023
Last update: July 10, 2023