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See vets treat animals at Tampa's Busch Gardens

TAMPA — Watching surgery performed on a lion might seem like something you can only catch on National Geographic Channel, but starting Jan. 23, visitors to Busch Gardens can see it firsthand, NBC affiliate WFLA-TV reports.

A new $5 million Animal Care Center at the park will allow guests to learn about everything from animal nutrition to surgery.

Many of the animals at the state-of-the-art medical center will be treated in surgical rooms behind a floor-to-ceiling window. Guests can also see routine physicals, X-rays, dental care while the park's 2,000 animals are tended to in an interactive environment.

Internationally known animal expert Jack Hanna, who is scheduled to make appearances at Busch Gardens on Friday, said the only similar facility he has seen is in Australia.

"My mind is boggled seeing everything in here," Hanna said. "These are exotic animals. These aren't dogs and cats. In the zoo world before, no one really got to see that, and now everything is open basically."

So open you might even get more than you bargained for when you stop by a microscope.

"We look at all kinds of things under this microscope," said Nancy Stedman, a veterinary pathologist at the facility. "Guests will be able to see what we're looking at. They'll see everything from poop, pee and giraffe placenta."

Those looking for a less-intense experience can check out the kitchen. Experts will guide visitors through an animal diet.

"Similar to the cooking shows you see on TV, but instead of cooking food for people it'll be cooking for animals," said Jose Dominguez, a Busch Gardens educator.

Admission to the exhibit is included in the regular park fee. Busch Gardens is at 10165 N. McKinley Drive, off Busch Boulevard.

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