Get a sneak peek at Busch Gardens' new Animal Care Center

TAMPA - Busch Gardens' new Animal Care Center gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at caring for more than 2,000 creatures who live at the park.

From nutrition to treatments, X-rays to surgeries, much of Busch Gardens' animal care will be conducted in guest view in this new state-of-the-art facility.

"We are proud of the care we provide our animals," said Mike Boos, vice-president of zoological operations. "We welcome the opportunity to share our level of care with our guests, and to continue our mission of connecting guests to animals and the natural world. No other zoological facility will offer the unique, up-close experience that this new facility will offer."

This new, nearly 16,000 square-foot facility sits where the rhino exhibit is currently located in the Nairobi area of the park. The park's previous animal care center was located out of public view.

The nutrition center features a kitchen similar in set-up to a cooking show on television. Educators will lead demonstrations several times a day on the planning and preparation of animal diets.  Guests will even have the chance to assist in preparing and doling out the range of food the park provides its animals, from fruits and vegetables to crickets and meal worms.

The treatment center will allow guests to watch as Busch Gardens' skilled veterinarians do preventative checkups, treatments and surgeries on animals. Guests will be able to see into the rooms through glass walls, and audio capabilities will allow guests to talk to vets working behind the glass. Cameras placed over the exam table will show unique vantage points to guests who can watch on monitors. During treatments and surgeries, zoo educators will also be on hand to talk about what's taking place.

In addition to the guest views, the new facility will also include animal recovery rooms, vet offices and research stations.

Guests can also participate in a diagnostic exercise by scanning an interactive activity card at several stations as they follow an animal from diagnosis to treatment to blood and lab work to a final outcome.

The Animal Care Center officially opens to the public on January 23.

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