The new Elephant Interaction Area at Busch Gardens Tampa is many things and it’s difficult to describe in a few short sentences. Really, it’s designed to bring people and elephants together in a fun and enlightening environment… and it just opened recently!
It’s located adjacent to the guest sidewalk and across from the site of our new state-of-the-art zoo hospital (now under construction on the site of the old Nairobi rhino display).
The area features a beautifully-landscaped, raised deck for enhanced viewing of the elephant habitat, plus a shaded, ground-level plaza that runs up to an innovative husbandry gate.
At the gate, our Elephant team has everything they need to do blood-draws, footwork, and other basic husbandry procedures that heretofore had to be done off-display just outside Pachyderm Palace.
This versatile gate area also allows the animal care specialist team to maintain strong bonds with the elephants, by engaging in relationship and play interactions, to the delight of the elephants and the enchantment of our guests. We’ve always talked about the importance of play and close, trusting relationships, but we can now better demonstrate these in an intimate setting.
Although the major advantage of the new area is getting new and closer access to the elephants and their keepers, audio/visual elements will also contribute to messaging and interaction with guests.
In addition to a crystal clear new audio system for trainers, a 53” flat-panel display will feature video images from three sources: a fixed camera covering most of the elephant habitat and much of the rhino rally hoofstock area, a hand-held video camera that will permit us to show close-up details of husbandry procedures, and a flash-video component that allows us to loop video, such as our Saving a Species Elephants episode, training demonstrations, and elephant news headlines from around the globe.
Another addition is a staircase for the Elephant team that will provide them with improved access to the elephant exhibit and guest areas. Graphics will soon be added that spotlight the engaging and unique personality traits of our five Asian elephants.
In addition to being open three hours per day or more for guests, the Elephant Interaction Area also has the potential to host private tours and programs, and can also be utilized for behavioral research, another important component of our elephant program
Source: Busch Gardens blog