Sunday, September 23, 2018
Business

Busch Gardens animal exhibit Jambo Junction closes days after SeaWorld announces layoffs

TAMPA — An interactive wild animal exhibit has closed at Busch Gardens just a few days after the park's parent company, SeaWorld Entertainment, announced it would layoff or eliminate 320 positions across the company's 12 attractions.

A Busch Gardens spokeswoman confirmed that the Jambo Junction exhibit was closed Thursday, and said that the future of the exhibit is unclear. She declined to comment on how many workers were laid off at Busch Gardens as part of SeaWorld's announcement Tuesday.

"We are not commenting on the specific number or positions for the park," said Karen Varga-Sinka. "No decisions have been made about what lies ahead for the Jambo Junction section of the park at this time."

Jambo Junction was a zoo education section of the park where visitors could walk through the exhibit and see animals in their enclosures from behind glass walls. Another animal walk-through area, Curiosity Caverns, closed this year, according to the blog Screamscape.com, which tracks the amusement park industry.

"Jambo Junction is closed as we are always evolving how we deliver our park attractions and experiences. Busch Gardens continues to offer guests dozens of ways to engage with thousands of animals in our world-class habitats," Varga-Sinka said. "We are an animal-focused company at heart and are consistently looking at new ways to bring that vision to life in our parks. As with other attractions that change over time, the closure of any area of the park is considered against a number of factors including its popularity when compared to other attractions."

On Tuesday, SeaWorld Entertainment announced a corporate restructuring program that would eliminate 320 positions across all 12 parks, which include SeaWorld parks in Orlando; San Antonio, Texas; and San Diego; Busch Gardens parks in Florida and Virginia; and Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. The layoffs were part of an effort to reduce costs. Layoff notices have not been reported to Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity yet, which tracks job eliminations. SeaWorld laid off around 300 employees in 2014.

Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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