In early February of 2012, a team of Busch Gardens’ dedicated educators (Mike Boos, Shellie Kalmore, and Natasha Sherwood) made it their mission to brave the wilds of Africa in order to bring us the camp experience of a lifetime. Over two weeks, these brave adventurers traveled through east Africa, exploring national parks, meeting with rangers and safari guides, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, touring a Masai Village and visiting some of the projects supported by the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.
Before leaving for Africa, the team invited school children and fans from around the globe to put on their virtual hiking boots and join the expedition- through a blog! Once the team returned to Busch Gardens Tampa, they were able to share so much more that we can’t wait to share with you! Over the next three weeks we’ll be posting some of the highlights of their adventure.
Summarizing the truly amazing stories of these travelers is very difficult, but in each post we’ll highlight three sections: “Celebrating Africa’s Wildlife”, “Connecting with New Friends”, and “Caring for the Natural World We Share.”
Being “Zoo People” from Busch Gardens, you can imagine that our travelers were excited to see animals in their natural habitat. While they loved seeing ALL of the wildlife, folks who go on safari in Africa often make it their goal to see the “Big 5”: Elephant, Rhinoceros, Leopard, Lion, and Water Buffalo.
The team made their way around the park by jeep...
...where they were able to (safely) see Serengeti National Park’s MANY species, predator and prey, large and small.
Mwanza Flat-Headed Agama Sunning
Leopard Lounging in a Tree, Enjoying a Well-Earned Meal
(1 of the five...check!)
Acacia Tree Heavy with Weaver Nests
A Wary Jackal
A (Very Alert) Baboon Baby
A Close-Up Hyrax...
....and his surrounding brethren!
(Yes, they're all those little bumps on the rock!)
Lover Lions’ Quarrel
A Nearby Pride, Up High, and Down Low!
(2 of five...check, check!)
Will we be able to check off the rest of the Big 5? Only the upcoming posts will tell!
One day was spent with the children and teachers of Mkombo School and Orphanage. The kids greeted our team with open arms and big smiles.
Here’s Natasha with some new friends...
The kids showed off their school, invited the team to play soccer (with new Cheetah Hunt soccer balls) and hot-potato, and honored everyone by singing a song about Tanzania’s National Parks
On behalf of Busch Gardens, James Monroe Elementary School from Everret, Washington and the Colorado Ancient Order of Hibernians, the team was able to present the school with donations (and some new Busch Gardens Camp T-Shirts!)
Complete immersion in this amazing environment and the ability to see animal behaviors and spectacular sights that may NEVER have been seen before is a magical feeling.
But only several decades ago, Louis and Mary Leakey were "compelled by curiosity" and making a discovery of their own here- fossilized remains of the earliest know human, dating back almost 2 million years.
As we take in the magnificent African landscape, its people and its animals, we must ask ourselves what legacy we’re leaving behind.
What will those who follow behind us, separated by decades, centuries, or more find? How can we help the magic and majesty of this place to thrive for generations to come?
We asked the question, and together, readers, students, educators, families, we are the answer. Increased awareness is the beginning, where you go from there is up to you.