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June 23, 2000

Busch Gardens Tampa Reopens Renovated Serengeti Plain

Tampa, FL -- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay dedicated a dramatically enhanced 29-acre portion of its Serengeti Plain animal attraction today, reopening the one-of-a-kind habitat after more than nine months of renovation.

The Serengeti Plain enhancement offers guests incredible, up-close encounters with hundreds of exotic African animals. Performers from Riverdance: The Show, the internationally acclaimed celebration of Irish music, song and dance, participated in the park's "Golden Spike" dedication, stepping the final spikes of the attraction's Serengeti Express Railway into the ground during a signature dance. The performers visited Busch Gardens while in Tampa as part of a United States tour.

The attraction, home to giraffes, zebra, gazelle, bongo, eland, impala, addax, ostriches, and other African species, highlights majestic views from its Serengeti Express Railway, Skyride, Serengeti Safari truck tour and a number of adjacent walkways.

The enhanced Serengeti blends portions of the Plain's eastern and western habitats into its southern acreage adjacent to the Edge of Africa animal attraction, creating one seamless, 29-acre environment.

During the dedication, park General Manager Robin Carson reaffirmed Busch Gardens' commitment to designing and maintaining world-class animal habitats and offering guests memorable, up-close animal experiences.

"When the Serengeti Plain opened 35 years ago, Busch Gardens set a new standard in the way guests could experience African animals," Carson said. "This new Serengeti environment's unparalleled combination of rolling landscapes, elevated terrain, and seemingly barrier-free views immerse guests even more intimately into the wonders of the African savanna."

Additions to the new environment include expansive berms, the largest of which is four acres; tiered and open landscapes covered with native and African grasses, scrub trees and shrubs; rock outcroppings and bluffs replicating natural formations; and naturalistic creek beds and mud banks. The Plain features nearly 700 trees including 26 species of Acacia, 7,000 shrubs such as Cape Honeysuckle and Burgundy Fringe Flower, and more than 21,000 short and tall grasses. A number of bamboos including Arrowleaf and Henon Timber also cover the acreage. More than 150 species of vegetation are represented.

"The Serengeti's meticulous design including expansive landscaping, diverse topography and hundreds of animals, provides unforgettable animal encounters for our guests and affords our animals incredibly naturalistic habitats," Carson said. In addition to landscape enhancements, a new behind-the-scenes 3,600-square-foot giraffe barn has been constructed and connected to a 10,000-square-foot habitat designed for additional animal care. The habitat also features an off-view 6,000-square-foot hoofstock habitat.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Serengeti Plain Enhancement Fact Sheet

Attraction: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's Serengeti Plain enhancement blends its eastern and western portions with its southern acreage into one seamless 29-acre African savanna. The Plain has undergone dramatic topographical and landscaping enhancements replicating a naturalistic habitat for hundreds of animals featuring rugged, undulating terrain with trees, shrubs and grasses native to Africa.

Animals: Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe, bongo, addax, addra gazelle, eland, impala ostrich, marabou stork, East African crowned crane, sacred ibis


More than 150 species of African trees, shrubs, grasses and aquatic plants 700 African and native trees representing 66 species and 26 Acacia species 7,600 native and African shrubs representing 57 species 21,500 native and African grasses and bamboos representing 33 species Naturalistic rock outcroppings and bluffs sprinkled with vegetation Mudbanks replicating marsh areas of the African savanna.

Serengeti Express Railway route redesigned to offer guests majestic vantage points of the Plain's animals and naturalistic environments

Engineer: Mark Rose, vice president of design and engineering Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Architect: Peckham, Guyton, Albers and Viets, Inc.

Landscape Architect: Foster, Conant and Associates