Feb 23

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Gives GuestsTheir 15 Minutes of Fame at “Animal Connections”

by Staff

Have you ever wondered how much concentration it takes for someone like Jack Hanna or Julie Scardina to do a television interview while holding a cute - but squirmy - animal? How do you focus on what you're saying when you've got an owl monkey nuzzling your neck or a bush baby climbing on your head? The new Animal Connections experience at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay gives guests the opportunity to find out first hand what it takes to be an Animal Ambassador.

A guest on the Animal Connections tour presents a kinkajou, an exotic small mammal found at Busch Gardens Tampa.

The 30-minute experience treats each new talent like a TV star. Upon arriving, the guest is assigned a personal “Production Assistant” to guide them through their on-camera experience. After shooting a “head shot,” the guest is escorted to wardrobe and given the opportunity to freshen their makeup and hair in the Green Room.

A guest prepares for her TV in-studio debut during the tour.

Depending on whether the guest chooses “African Adventure” or “Rainforest Discovery,” they will be assigned one of Animal Connections' furry or feathered co-stars, which include lemurs, owl monkeys, bush babies, macaws, porcupines, and other exotic species. They are given several minutes to study a provided script full of facts about the animal they'll be presenting.

Then it's into the studio, where green-screen technology places the guest into his or her animal's natural habitat. After taking a few minutes to acclimate to the animal, the script scrolls on the teleprompter, and the director rolls camera... 3, 2, 1, Action! Special one-way glass allows friends and relatives to view the taping and take photos of their star's performance.

Whether the guest gets it in one take or has to try a few more times, the result is a DVD of the performance bookended with some of Busch Gardens' award-winning animal footage. Animal Connections is $29.99 per taping, which guests can do alone or as a couple. The price includes the “star treatment” experience and a DVD of the performance. It is located in the Crown Colony Plaza area of the park, between Edge of Africa and Egypt