Tour De Tampa: Fun At Busch Gardens

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Tampa, FL (WVLT) - On January first, the Tennessee Vols will be playing in the Outback Bowl.

And if you're making your way to Tampa for the big game, we're bringing you some ideas to make your stay there even more enjoyable.

Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb begins our Tour De Tampa at a theme park that's really on the wild side.

At Tampa's Busch gardens there's plenty to do.

"We're the Tampa Bay areas largest area attraction and we've got everything from world class rides to one of the world's largest zoos," says Aimee Jeansonne-Becka, Busch Gardens' public relations manger.

"This is Sam. Sam is one of our ambassadors at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay. This is one of the many animals that guests have the opportunity to see and interact with on a day to day basis throughout our park," says Shiloh Underkoffler, a zoological education specialist at Busch Gardents.

Busch Gardens is home to more than 2,000 animals and taking a safari trip into the wild is one of the options.

"Takes you out to the heart of our 65 acre Serengeti Plain. You can get up close to rhinos, zebras, and actually hand feed giraffes, which is pretty awesome if it's something you've never done before," Underkoffler says.

But the alligator is Florida's signature animal. It's more than a mascot that has its place in the environment.

"They dig what are called gator holes in lakes and ponds which actually help retain water in times of drought. They also help keep the fish and turtle populations in check," Underkoffler explains.

And there's always something new to see.

"We have two white Bengal tiger cubs that are about three months old and weigh about 30 pounds which are absolutely precious," says Underkoffler.

But Busch Gardens is also a theme park filled with fun. Their newest ride is Sheikra. It's a roller coaster which has a steep climb then fall but before you drop, you get a few seconds to think about it.

"It's actually 200 feet up and a true 90 degree drop and a water feature finale which is really unique for the coasters industry," says Aimee.

You'll also find plenty of live entertainment at Busch Gardens.

Underkoffler says the park also celebrated the first birthday of the gorilla born there last year.

Stephen's Tour De Tampa continues with Part 2 on Tuesday at the Clearwater Aquarium, where folks are helping a dolphin named Winter recover after he lost his tailfin in a crab net.