Jungle VIPS

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Busch Gardens – as you know I’m not a fan of zoos. What I found though was an environment where the emphasis is very much on creating as natural a habitat as possible. With his big brown eyes and beautiful face it was impossible not to fall in love with Sim Sim the Silverback gorilla. He seemed very content and being so close and watching him communicate with the keeper – using sign language to communicate he wanted more fruit – was simply magical. His gaze never seemed to leave ours. Stuffing a big ball full of lettuce is not something you do every day, but it was all part of the Elephant Keeper Experience. Our job was to get an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetable snacks ready for the five Asian elephants, but hide them in activity balls and blocks to give them more of a challenge. So we ran around in the heat, hiding apples, corn on the cob and giant frozen popsicles in as many places as possible. Then we watched as the elephants demolished the lot. Absolutely brilliant. Another highlight has to be the Serengeti Safari, where you can feed giraffes from the top of a jeep. As you can see they have the most extraordinary eyelashes and their coats are very soft to the touch. Their mouths are like velvet.  Rollercoasters at Busch Gardens include SheiKra and my personal favourite, Stanley Falls, which gives you a good soaking as you plummet down a 40-foot drop – very welcome in the heat.  For younger children, there is the fantastic Sesame Street Safari of Fun, a brilliant multi-coloured adventure playground full of themed rides and water fun to keep them cool. But for me, it was all about the animals. There are some daytrips which stay with you forever. Busch Gardens is definitely one of them. For details of how to get there, see yesterday’s post. *These photos are my entries to this week’s Gallery. written by Liz Jarvis