Animal Care Center Set To Open At Busch Gardens

Filed under: Busch Gardens,Theme Parks |

Visitors to Busch Gardens will soon be able to closely observe and take part in the animal care experience when the Tampa based park opens its new Animal Care Center on January 23rd.

The new 16,000 square foot facility will offer guests a behind-the-scenes glimpse into various animal care practices. These range from seeing how the animals nutrition is handled through to how their health is carefully monitored.

The Animal Care Center replaced the rhino exhibit in the Nairobi area of the park and will be the operation center that takes care of more than 2,000 animals in the park.

“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 can offer the unique, up-close experience that this new facility will provide.”

Recently we paid a visit to Busch Gardens and we took a look around. The first thing you notice as you enter the building is the nutrition center and the kitchen that is similar in set up to a cooking show on television. It’s here that guests will learn and take part in preparing and feeding a wide range of food that the park provides to its animals. Nutrition demonstrations are scheduled to take part during each day and educators will demonstrate how they plan and prepare a wide variety of animal diets.

Leaving the nutrition center you head towards the treatment center and as you turn the corner, you are immediately impressed with the fantastic facilities that have been built. The treatment center is a state of the art facility that many human beings would be more than happy to enter to have a medical procedure carried out. I’m not so sure that humans would enjoy having guests watch what is happening to them through the large glass windows but in an effort to educate, guests are able to watch check ups, treatments and even surgeries up close.

The new facility also features a clinical lab and an interactive diagnostic activity and visitors will be able to speak to vets working behind the glass. Cameras placed over the exam table will show unique vantage points to those watching on monitors.

During treatments and surgeries, zoo educators will also be on hand to talk about what’s taking place. Since it is a working center, procedures will vary daily and will not take place during all scheduled park hours due to field work, office work and other projects requiring the vets’ time and attention.

Most days visitors will see a parade of animals getting 30 to 60 minute physicals or preventive treatments like a sloth getting his innards checked by ultrasound, a hedgehog in for dental work or a flamingo whose chapped feet are treated with a cold laser. But you could also happen upon an animal undergoing surgery like the kangaroo that just had a lung operation.

Inspired by similar glassed-in facility at Cleveland, St. Louis and in a rural Australian animal park, the new $5 million center quadruples the space where Busch vets treat and monitor the health of 2,000 animals across 300 species.

“We will alert the squeamish if there is going to be blood,” said Peter Black, senior vet. “But it’s going to be hard to get in if we are operating on a tiger (because of crowds). The surgery would take hours.”

Nigel Worrall & Jack Hanna

Jack Hanna, pictured with me above right, American zookeeper and one of the most notable animal experts in the world was also on hand and he remarked “You can’t have conservation without education. This facility is the new state of the art. In the next six months, hundreds of zoo vets will travel here to see it.”

All of this goes to reinforce the fact that Busch Gardens and its parent company, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, are world leaders in animal care. They care for more than 60,000 animals and they do it in a manner that helps educate the public and puts the interests of the animals first and foremost.

More pictures at and here’s some video:

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