Jun 11

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Catches World Cup Fever

by Staff

As the United States and England soccer teams prepare to square off in South Africa for the World Cup on Saturday, the meerkats in Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's Edge of Africa habitat share their World Cup spirit in some "wild" ways.

The meerkat soccer match crosses center field with 3-on-1 break toward the tiny ball made of ground meat - the pups' favorite treat - rolled in flour and decorated with the traditional English St. George's Cross. Their turf was created with squares of sod; the lines marked with flour.

The names of the "players" are all real members of the English and American World Cup teams, changed slightly to represent an appropriate meerkat moniker. England's star player Wayne "Wazza" Rooney becomes Wayne "Fuzzy Wuzza" Rooney, and Jermaine DeFoe is now Jermain DeFur. On the American side, Jay DeMerit becomes Jay DeMeerkat, and let's not forget Herculez Gomez as Herculez GoMeerkat!

Meerkat Futbol

Activities like this serve as enrichment for Busch Gardens' animals. Animal enrichment can take many forms, including toys, food or objects to explore, and is usually something different, unusual and challenging that stimulates the animals' interest. Animal enrichment activities such as this are just one of the many ways the park's zoological team keeps the animals engaged and active.