Species Spotlight

Species Spotlight: Sharks

Throughout this year, we are highlighting several species in the wild that need our help. Learn how we are helping make a difference and how you can, too! Right now, we are spotlighting the ocean’s top predators- sharks! Check out the other tabs below on other species we are celebrating this year.

There are more than 450 types of sharks and they come in various shapes and sizes. Some sharks can fit into the palm of your hand, while others like the Whale Shark can grow to be 59 feet long. Like their fish counterparts, sharks are cold blooded and use their gills to breathe. They also have fins to assist in swimming.

The diet of a shark varies. Sharks eat other fish, crabs, and even smaller marine organisms like plankton. One common misconception about sharks is that they are dangerous and should be feared, especially by humans. However, shark attacks are not common and more people die every year from avalanches than shark attacks. Sharks have a lot of different habitats including oceans, tropical lagoons, and even some rivers.

How Busch Gardens Supports Sharks

Sharks are considered an endangered species. Throughout the year, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens work to protect sharks from over fishing and prevent marine habitat destruction. The SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund supports several marine animal rescue and conservation organizations with grants and other services. The fund has donated over $300,000 to various wildlife organizations, some directly benefitting the shark and other marine life. For more information on the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Fun visit swbg-conservationfund.org and learn how you can help. Or, press the donate button to the right and be a part of our conservation efforts!

Cheetahs are the world’s fasted land mammal, sprinting up to 70mph. They are incredibly built for such speed with muscular legs, a flexible spine, special pads and semi-retractable claws on their feet for traction. Unfortunately, these majestic animals are considered a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature list and the Endangered Species Act.

In 2014, Busch Gardens welcomed two cheetah cubs, named Tendai, meaning “thankful,” and Thabo, meaning “joy”. Their birth was part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan.

In addition, Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay supports the conservation of and education about cheetahs through the SeaWorld® & Busch Gardens® Conservation Fund, which has donated over $300,000 and counting to projects involving cheetah in Africa since 2005.

How Busch Gardens Supports Cheetahs

The Busch Gardens Tampa Zoo Education and Zoo Ops teams support public education about cheetahs throughout the year. Along with Skype in the Classroom, there are many other programs that give guests the opportunity to connect with cheetahs.

The Heart of Africa Tour gives guests the opportunity to “get closer” and go behind the scenes at Cheetah Run to observe a training session. Resident campers from our camp programs work hand-in-hand with our cheetah trainers experiencing what it is like to work with these majestic animals, while our other camp participants are given exclusive behind the scenes encounters.

Busch Gardens celebrates International Cheetah Day each December. Our educators assist the cheetah trainers in making this a celebration to remember by creating fun and themed enrichment at the Animal Care Center. Along with the cheetah animal card, conservation card and a recently developed infographic distributed to science teachers across the country, guests of all ages enjoy learning about cheetahs.