Freelance Writer

Freelance WriterRichmond Theme Parks Examiner

Busch Gardens welcomes first Clydesdale ever born at the park

Mention Busch Gardens and the image of galloping Clydesdales is one of the first things that comes to mind. The Williamsburg park has just witnessed a milestone in their welcome of another gentle giant to their herd of traditional Scottish Clydesdales.

Born just two days ago (April 5, 2011), and weighing a healthy 150 pounds, this yet to be named foal is the first to be born at a SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment park. Previous foals have always been born at a separate facility and then later returned to the park along with their mother.

Panola, the expectant mother, had been showing signs for several days that she was ready to deliver and the upcoming birth was confirmed when the park's animal specialists checked calcium levels in her milk. She was led into her stall to rest on Monday evening. Around 11:45 p.m. handlers noticed an increased level of activity, as well as pacing and kicking, all signs that she was having contractions. About an hour later her water broke and delivery began.

According to a press release, Jennifer Brown, the park's Clydesdale specialist, said “We saw one foot, then a second foot, then the head. Our team was there to assist with hot water and towels, but Panola did most of the work herself, and did a great job.”

Jay Tacey, manager of zoological operations, described the colt as remarkable and added “The colt is nursing and he and Panola appear to be doing very well. He is figuring out how to stand up and lay down, which is difficult with legs that long and a body that small.”

Tacey added, “This is the first Clydesdale born to the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment family, and we're glad it could happen here at Busch Gardens.”

Park guests can see the new colt in the Highland Stables pasture in the Scotland section of the park. The Stables were redesigned last year to reflect a more traditional working Scottish farm. The Clydesdale colors, black with a white blaze, are common features of Scottish draft horses.

Behind-the scenes tours are available to learn about the history of the Highland Stables and the animals that make it their home, which includes Border Collies and Blackface Sheep. For more information on the Clydesdales and Collies Up-Close tour, as well as other behind-the-scenes tours, please visit or call (800) 343-7946.

Bring a friend and come visit the new residents of the Highland Stables. I know I will as soon as I can. Wild horses couldn't keep me away.

Located just 55 miles from Richmond in historic Williamsburg, Busch Gardens offers more than 200 beautifully landscaped acres of thrilling coasters, family fun rides, KIDsiderate attractions, and animal encounters, including the Highland Stables, Jack Hanna's Nature Reserve, Eagle Ridge and Wolf Valley.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is part of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, which operates 10 parks across the United States, including SeaWorld in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego, Busch Gardens Tampa, the waterparks Adventure Island Tampa and Water Country USA Williamsburg, Sesame Place in Philadelphia, PA, and Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando, FL.

With a strong commitment to its “animal ambassadors,” SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment created the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to protect wildlife, support habitat conservation and provide research, education and animal rescue programs. To learn more about this private, non-profit foundation, please visit