As far as tours are concerned with Theme Parks, they can be great, or they can be a way to grab more money from you. They can be a way to get a closer look at something you’re really interested in, or just give you extra ride time. In the case of the Endangered Species Tour at Busch Gardens Tampa, it really takes you back behind the scenes and gets you closer than you might imagine to animals that you normally wouldn’t be able, or want to get closer to on your own. We’re going to take a closer look at the Endangered Species Tour and show you a little bit more about it.
First things first, it wouldn’t be a complete trip unless we did a little snooping and did a little update.
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We took a little spin into the Animal Encounters area, formerly the Clydesdale Hamlet. This area screams temporary. It’s just a quick fix to keep traffic flowing and make them stop. The sets are visible without paying to record, and the walls are decorated with famous folk who have stopped by to see some of their favorite animals. The cost is about $29.95 for a video that puts you in the action, and really it’s not a bad value.
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Next would be construction and yep, there’s a backhoe in the Edge of Africa section next to the Hippos. You can also see the old survey stakes gone, and new ones in different places, most of which are in Rhino Rally. There are also some pink ribbons attached to nails in the pathway along Rhino Rally along the water route. The driver on Rally said “Don’t mind those pink marker….errr…tape….err…I have no idea what those are for…it’s not a new ride so don’t worry.” Indeed.
Things we learned just by listening to employees when they thought we weren’t listening:
“How tall is the new coaster going to be?”
“They’re starting that soon?”
And we also learned that they are building a new habitat for the Wallabes, Kangaroos and Koalas, though we don’t know where or if they will be part of a new attraction.
We first checked in at the Up Close Adventures Center, and were whisked away for our first tour, the Coaster Insider Tour which features Montu. This was a wedding present to Racheal because she would rather go and touch coasters and animals than cruise and sit on a beach. So we spent our first day together as man and wife in the rain, touching giraffes and coasters. It was an amazing honeymoon.
The Endangered Species Tour is a 45 minute tour that takes you on the back of a special flatbed truck through the area that you only get to see on the train. The price is roughly about $30 though we had a discount with our Platinum Pass that made it very reasonable. We started off feeding giraffes, though the only one that wanted to come visit us was Dolly. The rest spent the day huddled together against the wall avoiding the rain. Dolly was the oldest of the animals and knew when to come and eat. She was so amazing, she could follow the food from across the field and had an amazingly long tongue that she uses to grab leaves off of trees.
Fun Facts We Learned:
- Giraffes have the same number of vertebrate in their necks as humans, just larger.
- Their tongue is black and purple to protect it from the sun since they spend most of their day eating
- They can see the color green from almost a mile away
- The name “Reticulated” means net, which makes sense since it looks like they have nets thrown over them
Being this close was worth the price of the tour. How many people can say they actually hugged a giraffe?
Next stop was a closer look at all the animals that you normally don’t see on Rhino Rally including a waterbuck who’s fur is so thick with oil that they stink all the time. It’s their defense mechanism. The other feature of the tour was the White and Black Rhinos. You get so close to them its not funny. These animals are dangerous and can easily flip the truck over, but they have such a tolerance for people and for the trucks, it’s amazing to just run right by them. The other peak of the tour is meeting two of the keepers who feed a black rhino just inches from you. Because of the nature of the animals you’re not allowed to touch or feed them, but you do get really close. The black rhino has fuzzy ears and it’s really quite cute for such a large animal.
Fun Facts About Rhinos
- They stay pregnant a long time! 16 months for one baby and can get pregnant immediately after.
- The White Rhinos aren’t White at all. The name comes from the word “Veit” which means wide because they have a wide mouth. It was just confused and they were dubbed White.
- Black Rhinos aren’t black at all…no one really knows why they are called black..maybe because the others are white
- Rhinos are born without their horns and develop them later in life. They shape their horns by grinding them on trees and can control the shape of them.
- The horns are not bone, or ivory, but the same thing your hair and fingernails are made of.
- Rhinos are hunted for their horns because its believed ingesting it can give you strength, and sexual prowess.
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This tour is good for children ages 10 and up. It’s a great value for the price and gives you a lot of one on one time with animals that you don’t see well from any other angles in the park. The tour guides are extremely knowledgeable about their craft and know all the animals quite well. A definite must do at Busch Gardens 5 out of a possible 5 stars.