The hit TV show Wildlife Docs is a national show here in the US the features the vets, trainers, and assistants at Busch Gardens Tampa as they take care of the 12,000+ animals that calls the park home. This show is all done out of the Animal Care Center which is located at Busch Gardens. The Animal Care Center is a place where guests can watch actual medical procedures as they happen live in front of them. This center was built to make the park guests feel that they are in the exam and operating room with the vets and the animals. All procedures are done in the Animal Care Center to allow guests a chance to see something that they wouldnt normally see in every day life. There is no telling what you may see on a daily basis, but procedures can range from the surgery of a bird all the way to the exam and surgery of a tiger! On my last trip to Busch Gardens, I was invited to take the Animal Care Center where I could experience what happened behind that glass!
Here is some details about the tour up front before I tell you about my experience:
- The tour lasts 75 minutes and is a walking tour through a real working animal hospital
- There is no gaurentee that you will see a live animal on this tour, however if there is a procedure going on most of the time you can watch from inside the room and interact with the vets taking care of the animals
- No bags are allowed on the tour however you can bring your camera!
- Some parts of the tour may not be for younger kids but the tour guide warns you before you see anything that you would not want them to see
- There is no places to sit or to use the bathroom on this tour so keep that in mind
- Tickets sell out quick for this tour, so buy in advance here!!!
- The price for the tour is $29.00
Now that the information is out of the way I wanted to tell you what I experienced on this tour! First off we learned about the Animal Care Center, what is’s purpose is and what all they do there from a guest standpoint. Afterwards, we learn a little bit about the diets of the animals and enrichment devices that are used at Busch Gardens to help keep the animals healthy and happy. After seeing some of the foods and devices used, we went backstage to check out the rest of the Animal Care Center. Once backstage, we saw some of the common medical devices that are used on the animals for medical procedures. A lot of the instruments used are the same as we use on humans which was cool for me to see since I work as a Paramedic! Once we talked about the instruments and the techniques used to get the animals to the Animal Care Center, we went into the exam room!
In the exam room we got to see a ton of stuff including some intubation equipment, medical devices and instruments and even a ultrasound that has glasses that the vet can see what is going on without looking away at a screen! In that same area was the x-ray department which we got to see. Seeing this area was cool because it is off limits to the guests due to the radiation. If you are at the Animal Care Center and there are x-rays being performed you can still see them on the TV screen! In the X=Ray department we got to see some of the x-rays taken at Busch Gardens including a cheetah, tiger, armidillo and a bald eagle! We also got some hands on time with a machine that reads ID tags that are embedded into some of the animals that tells you information about that animal such as sex, who the parents are, lab values, and more! After playing with some of the equipment we went into the surgical suite!
Inside the surgical suite we got to see where the instruments were cleaned, processed, packaged, steralized, and kept for the next surgical case. We then went into the operating room itself which can also be seen as a guest to the Animal Care Center. Inside the OR, we got to see more equipment used such as endoscopic cameras, ventilators and other devices used during surgery. We spent some time in the OR speaking about procedures that are done in the OR, what kind of medicine they use to keep the animals asleep, as well as why they have an OR at Busch Gardens. I was suprised to know that most of the procedures that are done at Busch Gardens were from animals that do not live there, such as birds that get injured or animals that get injured on property such as raccoons.
The last part of the tour was to the lab and the ICU. In the clinical lab we talked about the tests that are performed such as blood and fecal tests to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals at Busch Gardens. We also talked about what happend in the case of a death of one of the animals, what happens, and how the Animal Care Center plays a role in that research. After learning about the tests we got a chance to see some specemines up close and also to see some samples under a microscope and have a guess at what we were looking at! We then got a chance to see the ICU where the injured animals stay until they are recovered from their opperation or procedure. Luckly there were no animals in the ICU on my tour, however we did get a sneak peek at the new penguins that are coming to Busch Gardens soon!!!
The tour was a lot of fun for me and very informative! I reccomend this tour for a few groups of people! If you love animals, want to work with animals, or love the Wildlife Docs then this tour is for you! I always love getting a chance to see backstage of where the real work happens and this tour really did that for me! It was great seeing the people who work that job on a daily basis and to talk to them about what they do, and how much they really love their job and the animals they care for! I also feel that this tour is great because there is no telling what you could see when on the tour! One day you could take the tour and not see one animal, and the next time you take the tour you could get to see a surgery or a procedure with a endangered animal! I want to thank the Wildlife Docs for allowing me to come into their home and see where they work on a daily basis! We are setting up a time for one of the docs to come on the Orlando Fun and Food podcast to talk about the show, their job, and the Animal Care Center.
Have you taken this tour at Busch Gardens Tampa or ever wanted to? Comment below and let me know what you thought of the tour or what you would like to see on the tour!