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Celebrate Mother's Day this year at your favorite themed attraction

Mothers in the animal kingdom-slide0
Busch Gardens, used with permission

Every year, on the second Sunday in May, Mothers everywhere are celebrated for their grace, charm, and their ability to just be Mom. Florists are kept busy, and restaurants all across the land are packed with people. Of course, some people chose to celebrate the day another way, by visiting their favorite theme park.

This weekend, Mothers will receive free general admission to the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, as well as a ticket to an IMAX documentary film with the purchase of a child’s admission.You can have a family fun-filled adventure by exploring Kids in Charge!, relaxing in the butterfly garden, and catching an IMAX film all in one day!

Mother’s Day promotion may not be combined with any other offers or discounts. Limit one (1) offer per household. Mother and child(ren) must be present at time of purchase. Excludes special engagement exhibitions, films, events and Sky Trail Ropes Course & Zip Line. Other restrictions may apply. Offer only valid on May 10 & 11, 2014. Must mention offer.

If you didn't know better, you'd think that the animals as Busch Gardens® Tampa were looking for an excuse to celebrate the holiday as well. In early April, the zoo welcomed three Marabou stork chicks to first-time parents Fig and Reba. The pair took turns watching over the eggs for 30 days, which is the incubation period for Marabou storks.

Two of the chicks, along with the parents, can be seen on the Serengeti Plain® at Busch Gardens. Guests can catch a glimpse of Busch Garden’s newest animal residents by taking a ride on the Serengeti Railway or on a Serengeti Safari.

The third chick is behind-the-scenes at the state-of-the-art Animal Care Center. Marabou stork parents typically raise two chicks, so the Busch Gardens animal care team, with the guidance of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP), made the decision to hand-rear the third chick.

All three chicks are healthy and steadily growing as they approach their first month at Busch Gardens. Marabou Storks can reach a height of 60 inches with a 7 to 9-foot wingspan. Additionally, their bill can reach lengths of 14 inches.

On Sunday, April 27, Busch Gardens® Tampa welcomed a southern three-banded armadillo baby to the Animal Ambassador Team. This is the second baby born to mother “Zowie” and father “Ollie.” As Animal Ambassadors, both of the parent armadillos live in Jambo Junction, in the Nairobi area of the park. They are often part of educational talks and presentations to camps and school programs.

Since the baby armadillo will continue to nurse from its mother behind-the-scenes for a few weeks, the father armadillo will participate in the “grand reveal.” Ollie will forage through enrichment toys that the zoo education team will craft to look like truffles. The crafted truffles will be filled with two of Ollie’s favorite foods, his nutrient-packed insectivore diet pellets and bananas. During his exploration, he will uncover colored paper to reveal whether our newest addition is a male or female.

The baby was able to walk and roll into a ball within moments of its birth. Southern three-banded armadillos are the only species of armadillo that can fully roll up into a ball. The baby armadillo currently weighs 118 grams, which is about the weight equivalent to an average cell phone.

The baby boom continued at Busch Gardens® Tampa with the births of a Southern tamandua and three reticulated giraffes.Tamanduas, or lesser anteaters, are native to Central and South America. They have a gestation period of approximately six months. When a baby tamandua, or pup, is born, it typically spends several months riding on the mother’s back. Both the mother and the pup, which has not been named, are behind-the-scenes with Busch Gardens’ animal care team.

The giraffe babies were born March 12, 14 and 18 to mothers Bititi, Tequiza and Celina. There were two females and one male born. At birth, the females stood at 5 feet 6 inches and weighed more than 100 lbs. The male stood at more than 6 feet tall and weighed nearly 150 lbs. Within an hour of birth, the calves were standing and within two hours they were nursing.

Giraffes are the tallest mammal on Earth, with males standing close to 18 feet tall and females close to 16 feet tall. The gestation period for a giraffe is between 14-15 months, and the female gives birth while standing.

All three calves are currently behind-the-scenes and will be on Busch Gardens’ Serengeti Plain® in the coming weeks. None of the calves have been named yet.

About halfway between Orlando and Tampa lies a park that is is a world of it's own, literally. Dinosaur World, located at 5145 Harvey Tew Road in Plant City, is also offering free admission for mothers with a paid child's admission.

The Maiasaura (MAY-a-SAWR-a) was a large plant-eating duckbill dinosaur, known from some two hundred individual fossils found in the United States. This "good mother dinosaur" (as the name translates) is known in all stages of development from fossils found in nests, holding about two dozen eggs each, which are evidence that that this dino cared for her young.

So, whether you are a mammal or a dinosaur, be sure to tell your Mother "Happy Mother's Day" this weekend!

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