The new Busch Gardens' exhibit "Edge of Africa" creates the atmosphere of an African safari
Out of Africa ... and into Tampa
Busch Gardens exhibit showcases African wildlife for tourists and researchers
March 30, 1998
Web posted at: 1:01 p.m. EDT (1301 GMT)
From CNN Miami Bureau Chief John Zarrella
TAMPA (CNN) -- In Africa, humans and wildlife increasingly vie for the same territory. It is a land where the extinction of species is measured in probabilities, not possibilities.
In Africa, black rhinos are hunted by poachers for their horns. But in Tampa, Florida, a baby black rhino needs to worry only about learning to respond to human handlers.
At Busch Gardens' "Edge of Africa" exhibit, visitors go on safari without guns and go nose to nose with Africa's animals.
"I've always wanted to go to Africa," said tourist Diana Snyder, "so I thought this is the closest that I would get."
"I never really imagined going on an African safari," said Kenzie Snyder, "but after this I would love to go to Africa."
Conservationists who manage this facility believe it inspires compassion and appreciation for all animals.
"If a guest is walking through Edge of Africa and may see a lion face to face, that in itself may inspire them to maybe even look at the animals in their own backyard differently," said conservationist Susannah Wilson.
The Edge of Africa can't duplicate the real thing, but experts believe it provides an opportunity to study the needs of African animals in a natural setting. Scientists, for example, say they've learned captive breeding doesn't ensure the survival of species.
"Now we're more concerned in trying to get actively involved in field programs so we can help conserve the habitat," said Dr. John Olsen, "because if there's no habitat, you're not going to be able to put animals back in the field."
Researchers in Tampa study ways for the people of Africa and the wild animals to share the land. Can it work? Perhaps. If it doesn't, in the future hippos diving and baboons preening might be found only in places that are out of Africa.
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