Busch Gardens Tampa donated 10 koi and 12 tilapia on July 15 to St. Joseph's John Knox Village in Tampa, a retirement community only a few miles away from the Tampa theme park.
“We have an abundance of the fish, and we were happy to share the surplus with our neighbors at John Knox Village,” said Mike Boos, vice president of zoological operations at Busch Gardens.
John Knox Village residents and staff came out to watch Phil Hillary, Busch Gardens assistant curator, and Mike Malden, zoological supervisor, transfer the fish into the pond.
The fish are a welcome addition to John Knox Village's Serenity Place, a relaxing space for residents that includes the pond, a boardwalk, a bubbling waterfall, picnic tables and canopies.
The koi and tilapia were moved from a pond in Busch Gardens' Bird Gardens area, home to flamingos, free-flight bird aviaries and the new Walkabout Way, where guests can hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies.
The fish will feed on algae in the pond, as well as bread and fish food offered to them by John Knox Village residents and their guests.
-Koi are carp. In fact, the word “koi” in Japanese means “carp.”
-In Japanese, “koi” is a homophone for another word that means “affection” or “love;” koi are therefore symbols of love and friendship in Japan.
-Koi can grow to more than 30 inches. The ones at John Knox Village are anywhere from 18 to 24 inches long.
-The life span of a koi fish can be as long as 100 years.
-Koi spawn between March and June. They will probably nest in the sandy area near the boardwalk at John Knox Village, according to Phil Hillary, Busch Gardens assistant curator.
-Koi and goldfish are different species. Most noticeably, koi have barbels, which are whisker-like organs, while goldfish do not.
-Tilapia is a common Latin-derivative word that simply translates to "fish."
-The tilapia is called several different names, depending on which region it is in. It is also referred to as the St. Peter's fish, which is based on a popular Bible story.
-In Kenya, tilapia eat mosquito larvae, helping to control the mosquito population.