Saturday, April 13, 2013

Busch Gardens: Behind the Scenes

Alex had two weeks off for Spring Break this year so we decided to spend a few days in the Tampa area. My husband flew up on Saturday night to pick us up from our cruise Sunday morning.

The Detroit Lions train in Tampa during the spring, so we went for a game that afternoon. It was St Patrick's Day and, when these guys were raking the dirt, they started dancing to YMCA!

The next day, we headed to Busch Gardens. I think we saw this cute little
squirrel where we stopped to have breakfast.

They make a little feather "animal" for the cheetah to chase using feathers from the park.

At this point, she was turning around! What a stop!

And, after playing, she got to enjoy a drink... but she's ever watchful!

Alex and her dad rode a lot of rides and I rode a few, too. I love the speed setting on my camera!
It got both the cheetah shots and this fast-moving roller coaster shot!
They are the 3rd from the back row.

Another of their rides. Alex LOVES these rides that just keep dropping you, though
she found lots of roller coasters to love at Busch Gardens!

Next, it was time for our behind-the-scenes orangutan and tiger private tour.
What an incredible experience! It was just the 3 of us with a guide for 1.5 hours....

Going "behind-the-scenes" into the Orangutan House...

With the orangutans, we got to see how they train them with simple hand signals. Most of the training is so they will present various body parts for medical exams. Even a female orangutan is (if I'm remembering correctly) 4 times stronger than a human, so they really need their cooperation!

Here I am giving the signal for the orangutan to put his ear to the glass. We did these exercises with two orangutans and then got to feed them through the tube there under my elbow.
We just dropped in pieces of fruit!

And here is one of the trainers with their "smartest" orangutan. He's having her present
her belly where they can do things like use a stethoscope or an ultrasound!
She even did a cartwheel and a handstand at Alex's command!

Next we visited the tiger house...

This tiger was working on a retrieval command. There was a large stick in the water and he was supposed to jump in and get it. He preferred using his paws to try to get it to come to the side!

And this tiger needed its blood drawn. The lady near the head was feeding "meatballs" to the tiger to keep him occupied. The two ladies at the tail were trying to draw blood from the tail... the safest place to draw from! Unfortunately, they weren't able to get any blood at this time, but they didn't want to tire the tiger so they would try again later.

And, here I am using a bouy-on-a-stick to show this tiger where to put her head. This is also a training so they can observe various parts of the tiger's body for medical purposes.

And, our last stop was to go out in public to feed the 3 tigers on display. Alex chose a white tiger and was inside the glass area. She had a little tube she would drop the meatballs into - just like we did with the orangutans. My husband had a similar set-up.

But me? I was on a bridge and had to throw the meatballs over the moat and onto a little rocky ledge where my tiger was. I'm really not a good throw, but I made it to the tiger every time!!! There were about a dozen meatballs, and on the next-to-last one, the tiger tried to catch it in his mouth. So, I decided to aim for his mouth with the last meatball... and we did it!!! He caught it in his mouth!!

When we got back to our hotel for the night, we saw this cute little guy hanging out by the trash bin.

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