TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The rides are not running and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is empty, but the theme park is finding a way to give back to the community during the coronavirus pandemic.
8 On Your Side was the only local TV station at Feeding Tampa Bay as a box truck from Busch Gardens backed into the loading dock filled with lots of fresh food.
“That will be on someone’s table tomorrow in our community,” Feeding Tampa Bay CEO Thomas Mantz said.
The boxes of food, weighing in at close to 6,000 pounds., were packed with a variety of food including fruits, vegetables, and mac ‘n cheese.
“Busch Gardens has been a long time supporter of Feeding Tampa Bay,” Aimee Jeansonne-Becka, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Busch Gardens, said. “And so we looked what we could do for our community and this is one of the partners that we know has great resources the community is used to tapping into them. They do amazing things.”
The coronavirus pandemic has left theme parks across the state shut down for now.
“Great organizations like Busch Gardens are always making sure to help the community and the unfortunate part of having to close their park created the opportunity for them to donate food to us,” Mantz told 8 On Your Side.
One challenge from the decision to shut down schools statewide is making sure food insecure students have meals to eat.
“All of us want to make sure the children get the necessary resources and their families,” Mantz said.
While families can’t enjoy the thrills and fun at Busch Gardens, the staff is still there to feed the 12,000 animals.
“We have one of the largest zoological collections in the country,” Jeansonne-Becka said, “so that’s going to be a top priority for us making sure we keep those animals well cared for.”
Busch Gardens is closed until at least the end of the month.
“We look forward to inviting our guests back when we can reopen,” Jeansonne-Becka said.
For a full list of upcoming mobile pantry events click here.