Busch Gardens will be opening a new ride this summer that once again throws theme parks into the public’s negative perspective.
The new ride, Cobra’s Curse, will have an air-conditioned queue that will place riders up close and personal with many poisonous and lethal snakes who will be housed on display near the ride.
Despite claiming to be dedicated to animal welfare, Busch Gardens is continuing with the unfavorable construction even though the snakes, which will be housed literally right beside the coaster, are highly sensitive to loud noises and vibrations.
Animal activists have rightly slammed Busch Gardens due to the close proximity of the exhibit, which will cause the building to constantly shake, rattle and be filled with the screams of thrill seeking tourists.
Obviously, the intellect of the designers of Cobra’s Curse is on par with the geniuses responsible for the fictional disaster in Jurassic Park.
Sure, let’s house tanks full of poisonous snakes in an environment detrimental to their health and have large numbers of people pass amongst them every day. That plan is obviously foolproof. A large number of stressed out, poisonous snakes can in no way spell trouble for the theme park.
"It is correct that snakes do have an acute sense of reverberations," said a statement from Busch Gardens in response to questions from the Tampa Bay Times. "Our highly accredited zoo team has been thoughtfully working on creating a process to slowly acclimate the snakes to their new environment in the queue line at Cobra's Curse."
This acclimation essentially consisted of handlers exposing the snakes to recordings of sounds frequently found at amusement parks and allowing them to be near the tractors and front-end loaders that were doing construction at the park so they would experience loud rumbling and vibrations.
Phil Hillary, manager of zoological operations at Busch Gardens, claims the snakes have responded well to acclimation and are still able to eat and do other daily functions without any signs of extreme added stress.
However, the fact that the snakes were forced to acclimate in the first place is barbaric. Training an animal to go against their basic instincts in order to use them as a window display is wrong.
Busch Gardens claims to want to use the animals to “educate our visitors to how critical they are to our ecosystem.” However they could easily do that by placing the reptiles in a location more suitable for the animals.
Few people go to the theme park simply for its rides. The abundance of animals draw just as many visitors so opening a snake exhibit separate from the ride would not be unreasonable considering there are entire areas of the park dedicated solely to housing animals.
People have proven they no longer will stand for the abuse of animals as shown in the outrage over SeaWorld using orcas as circus performers and the call for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to retire its elephants.
Though snakes may not evoke the same adoration as other animals do, the fundamental belief held by increasingly aware customers still holds true that exploiting animals for human enjoyment is wrong.
Despite complaints, Busch Gardens still plans on placing the snakes in the stressful environment. Hopefully they will revisit that decision once they start losing customers who refuse to support mistreating animals in the name of entertainment.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communication.