Welcome to Florida: Meet Busch Gardens’ adorable residents

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – You may think Busch Gardens is all about the rides, but you can get up close to some absolutely adorable animals.

In addition to Tigris, Falcon’s Fury and Cheetah Hunt, the park offers incredible animal encounters.

Two brand new encounters were recently added where guests can meet rhinos and a sloth.

Curator of rhinos and hoostock Jason Green spoke to 8 On Your Side about the importance of seeing the animals while visiting Busch Gardens.

“It’s important to go on the rollercoasters. The shows are great. The food is good. But also you get an opportunity to get a lot of guests who may not have a lot of experience with animals and if you’re up close to an animal that weighs anywhere from 2 to 4,000 pounds, and you know, there’s maybe only a couple thousand left on the planet, and you’re not moved in some way… It definitely changes your perspective on these animals so quickly and so that’s such a great opportunity for these guests to see our animals up close,” he told us.

He also spoke to us specifically about the rhino encounter at the park.

“You’ll get to come out and visit with our white rhinos, meet a couple of our keepers and you’ll get an opportunity to touch those animals and get such an up-close experience,” Green said.

“And then you’ll get an opportunity to come meet one of our black rhinos, Jodi, she just turned 30 this year, which we’re very proud about. So you’ll get an opportunity to meet her and also possibly feed her as well. And so it’s a great opportunity to meet some really important animals and learn something about them.”

Also new to the lineup of encounters are the gorilla insider tour and the aldabra tortoise insider tour.

Here’s what to know before planning your next visit to Busch Gardens:

General Admission, Single-Park Prices:
-3+ days in advance: $84.99
-Any day: $94.99
-Ticket and one all day dining deal: $109.99

Animal Encounter and Prices (Click link for dates, as some may sell out):
Rhino Encounter: $59.99
Sloth Encounter: $59.99
Aldabra Tortoise Insider Tour: $19.99
Gorilla Insider Tour: $29.99

Click here for additional tours and encounters offered by Busch Gardens.

Travel time to Busch Gardens (links will update to current traffic conditions, weekday afternoon conditions listed):
– From Downtown Tampa: 17 minutes 
– From Brandon: 26 minutes 
– From New Port Richey: 55 minutes 
– From Lakeland: 48 minutes 
– From Bradenton1 hour
– From Sarasota: 1 hour, 9 minutes 
– From Orlando: 1 hour, 28 minutes

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