A sloth, a penguin and a toucan walk into the AJC newsroom..

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Harry the Sloth tolerated a room full of journalists with aplomb. Photo: Jennifer Brett

Newsrooms can be a zoo most any day but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was a little more so this morning, when Harry the Sloth, Dijon the African Penguin and Cyrano the Toucan came to call.

A Busch Gardens Tampa Bay team accompanied the feathered and furry guests as part of an educational ambassador tour. More than 12,000 animals representing more than 300 species, (more than 35 endangered or threatened) call Busch Gardens Tampa Bay home.

“More than 30,000 animals have been rescued by the park’s animal experts,” spokeswoman Karen Varga-Sinka said. ‘The goal of our program is to rehabilitate then return these animals to the wild.” 

Here’s what our visit was like:

My colleagues all documented the visit pretty thoroughly:

I made some new friends at work today! #buschgardens

A post shared by melrosegibson (@melrosegibson) on

Animal care specialists Christine Charlick, Trevor Suich, Sara Rojas and Mike Malden in addition to Varga-Sinka accompanied the visitors today.

“Busch Gardens is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a worldwide leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care,” she said. “The company collectively cares for one of the largest animal collections on the North American continent and has helped lead advances in the care of species in zoological facilities and in the conservation of wild populations. We support conservation programs and also operate one of the world’s most respected wildlife rescue programs. In cooperation with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld has helped animals in need—ill, injured, orphaned, and abandoned—for more than four decades.

“Our commitment also includes the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, which was created to help wildlife and our world thrive,” she continued. “For conservation-minded organizations around the world, we are a valued resource to help get their individual efforts off the ground, and make them a success. The Conservation Fund just recently surpassed $10 million in funding since its inception. Partners include the Nature Conservancy, the National Geographic Society and the Rainforest Alliance.”


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