Busch Gardens in Florida is the oldest of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s 11 theme parks. It offers rides, shows and animals and I was a guest there this week while researching a journalism feature. I had a really enjoyable day seeing the animals with Kelly and Stephanie from the press office, but saved the roller coasters and shows for next time. Here are some of the things I learnt, and I promise you they’re all true.
An echidna is a mammal which lays eggs, has a pouch for its young and looks a bit like a porcupine or a hedgehog. Baby echidnas have the unbelievably cute name of puggle. I met this one at Jambo Junction, an area of the park where visitors can get close to the animals and even feed them at certain times.
Alligators are scared of people and so the best thing to do if you come across one is to just keep away from it. It’s not a good idea to approach young alligators either because their protective mother is likely to be somewhere nearby. This one is also at Jambo Junction.
Giraffes enjoy eating iceberg lettuce. I took this photo while feeding lettuce to the giraffes from the back of a truck on a Serengeti Safari at the park. Besides the giraffes I saw hundreds of other animals including zebras, rhinos, ostriches and wildebeest.
At the park’s Animal Care Centre visitors can watch vets at work. When I visited, a serval was having an x-ray because it hadn’t been eating. Kelly told me that any animal that can fit through the door is treated at the centre, and that rescue animals are also treated here.
There are more Brazilian visitors than any other nationality in Florida these days, and not all of them speak English. I had to dredge up some rusty Spanish to help a couple understand the giraffe-feeding rules on safari. (Yes, I know Spanish isn’t the language of Brazil, but I don’t speak Portuguese so it was the best I could do).
Family travel lowdown: The 3-Park Ticket offers 14 days unlimited entry to Busch Gardens Tampa, SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica from £90 per person.