The new Jungala section of Busch Gardens opened April 5, replacing the Python coaster that closed in 2006.
Located in the Congo section of the theme park, Jungala contains rides, gift shops, eateries and endangered species attractions. Also, at various times throughout the day, there are parades and live performances by colorful stilt walkers dressed as jungle animals and trees.
There are three new animal habitats to explore: Orangutan Outpost, Tiger Lodge and Trail, and the Kulu Canopy. The Orangutan Outpost is a forest canopy habitat that contains rope hammocks, vines and logs for the orangutans to enjoy.
“The orangutan exhibit was so exuberant,” said Leslie-Ann Bent, a freshman majoring in chemistry. “I really enjoyed the glass floor in the exhibit where you could see the orangutans play in a hammock right beneath your feet.”
At the Bengal tiger exhibit, visitors can learn about the animals and how to protect them in the Tiger Lodge. The Tiger Trail contains caves and a winding bamboo path, as well as an underwater viewing and plunge pool so that guests can see the exotic creatures at all angles in all activities. Busch Gardens has added seven tigers to the park, bringing the total to 12.
“We hope that, by providing these new educational sources, guests will find an interest in protecting the tiger from right here in their own country,” said Jay Stutz, zoological staff member at Busch Gardens.
The Kulu Canopy is home to white-cheeked gibbons. It is also the future home of gharials, a reclusive crocodilian species of the East, and flying foxes, a fruit-eating bat species with a 6-foot wingspan.
These animals are endangered for various reasons. The Bengal tiger is poached for its hides and bones, which are believed to have healing powers. Orangutans and gibbons are endangered because of habitat loss.
Two signature rides of Jungala are The Wild Surge and Jungle Flyers. The Wild Surge is a four-story ride that shoots guests straight up, out of the top of a waterfall and into a crater below. Jungle Flyers is geared toward younger guests, and carries them through the sky on a multi-level zip line. Another attraction targeting younger guests is the Tree-Top Trails, a three-story, jungle-themed interactive playground with a water zone, bridges, crawl tubes, mazes and climbing nets.
Two places to eat in Jungala are the Bengal Bistro and Orang Cafe. The Bengal Bistro has cafeteria-style service with outside seating. Their menu includes entrees such as sandwiches, wraps and salads. Orang Cafe is more snack-oriented and provides menu items such as chicken strips and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
For Busch Gardens, the aim of Jungala is to save endangered species through conservation. For more information, visit swbg-conservationfund.org.