ATLANTA - WSB-TV welcomed some special guests to the West Peachtree Street studio recently. A cuscus, a pair of gopher tortoises, a ground hornbill and a sloth all stopped by the station.
The animals are part of the animal ambassador team from Busch Gardens Tampa. The team visited several spots in the Atlanta area to promote some of the attractions and activities the park features.
Elle the sloth was one of the more popular visitors. Sloths spend up to 20 hours a day resting, but Elle spent some time hanging out in the newsroom and eating. The sloth was part of the ambassador program to highlight something that sloths are not: fast. The Busch Gardens staff contrasted the speed, or lack thereof, of sloths vs. cheetahs. The park recently opened Cheetah Hunt and Cheetah Run. Cheetah Hunt is Busch Gardens' new coaster that uses the force of repelling magnets to launch riders from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds, three different times, above the African landscape below. Next to it is Cheetah Run, a new habitat that puts visitors up close to the world's fastest land animal. Trainers even conduct daily sprints with the cheetahs.
The cuscus was named Berko. Berko is the star of the park's new world class animal care center. The 16,000-square foot facility allows visitors a never before seen look into the upkeep and caring for the park's 2,000 animals. Treatments, X-rays and surgeries are done in front of guests at the animal care center.
A ground hornbill paid a visit, too. It's a bird. The species is native to eastern and southern Africa. The ground hornbill spends almost all of its daytime hours on the ground, nighttime is spent high in trees. Without any trees in the newsroom, the Busch Gardens staff had the bird fly from one station employee to the next.
The ground hornbill is one of the stars of the park's new Iceploration ice show. The show takes guests to the Serengeti, the Great Barrier Reef, the Arctic and the rainforest and includes world-class ice skaters, larger-than-life puppets, amazing costumes and more than 20 animals.
"What we try to do at Busch Gardens is we try to combine animal interactions and animal experiences with attractions and rides," said assistant curator at Busch Gardens Tampa Jay Stutz.
To learn more about the animals, check out Busch Gardens on the Web or Facebook or visit the Tampa resort for spring break or over the summer. Sea World is a sister park to Busch Gardens and the company regularly runs specials for anyone visiting both attractions.