Walking away from my mom at the airport was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Although I was really excited about going to Busch Gardens and working with the zookeepers for two whole weeks, part of me just wanted to jump off the plane and go back home.
At Busch Gardens, I learned that the only way to tell if a boa constrictor is a male or female is if the snake has offspring or by doing a blood test.
We watched the gorillas and chimps eat the Primate Enrichment (a combination of apples, carrots, celery and bananas frozen in watered-down Gatorade) we made the day before.
Did you know that tortoises can feel you petting them? Busch Gardens has one tortoise they think is about 250 years old, but nobody ever lived long enough to know for sure.
On a safari we saw the hooved animals and birds. One of the counselors put a bamboo leaf behind my ear and a giraffe stuck out her tongue to get the leaf. It was really weird having a giraffe licking me.
While I was there, we had both happy and sad news. One of the orangutans died from the flu. However, a baby giraffe was born. During my two weeks there, I witnessed two more births and watched some of these babies take their first steps.
We saw the KaTonga musical that takes you on a journey to the heart of Africa. They entertain with puppets, folklore, music and dance. I liked that the folklore told the stories of a monkey, a caterpillar, a frog and creation. We learned that storytellers make the best stories when they work together.
We went to the Haunted Lighthouse 4-D Show. 4-D is 3-D that makes you feel what you see. When they were spitting soda, you could actually feel the sticky, wet stuff splashing on you. It is based on the children’s horror author R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps books. It was one of the coolest experiences I ever had!
We got to ride some roller coasters. At Busch Gardens, we rode Scorpion, which has a 60-foot drop and a 360 degree loop; Gwazi ( the Southeast’s fastest, largest double wooden coaster); and Sheikra, with two 90 degree drops. We got to ride Montu in the dark! Montu is one of the tallest and longest inverted roller coasters in the world. I felt like I was upside-down the entire time!
The trip was amazing! I had many animal encounters, fed tortoises, pet crocodiles and boa constrictors, saw the gorillas, the giraffes, the big cats and so many more animals. I rode coasters and even got to go on a safari before the park opened!
I made so many new friends, both human and animal! If I didn’t know for sure before the trip, I knew as I boarded the plane that I need these animals as much as they need me.
Coming home was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I didn’t want the trip to end! Although I missed my family and friends at home, I knew that I may never again see some of these people who were my family for two weeks of my life!
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