May is a fantastic month to celebrate turtles and tortoises. May 1 began the sea turtle nesting season here in Florida, and Disney’s Animal Programs team members are, once again, monitoring sea turtle nests on a four-and-a-half mile stretch of coastline at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Every day, Cast Members identify new nests, examine and mark them for protection. World Turtle Day also is celebrated this month to encourage human action to help turtles and tortoises survive and thrive.
On May 19, we’ll have a Turtle Day celebration of our own at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Guests can learn about turtles and tortoises – and what they can do to protect them and their habitats.
Turtle Day activities include games that help families learn what threats turtles face in the wild, find out if they are smarter than a turtle, and experience what it’s like to find food with “turtle sight.” Other highlights include getting an up-close look at some of the turtles and tortoises that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and learning about how we care for them.
Of course, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – and The Seas with Nemo & Friends, too – we celebrate and conserve turtles and tortoises every day. Over the years, Disney animal care teams have nursed more than 250 endangered sea turtles back to health and released them back to the wild. Earlier this year, we joined with others in efforts to rehabilitate as many as 4,500 sea turtles impacted by cold temperatures around the state. And, since its inception, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has directed more than $800,000 to sea turtle conservation efforts through more than 60 programs worldwide.
Now, our Company is in contact with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, as well as other agencies, to stay abreast of anticipated needs related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and has offered assistance from our animal care experts and company resources to help.
This year, turtles have needed our help more than ever. You can learn more about them by visiting the Caribbean Conservation Corporation website, where you can read about Lumiere and Dory, Disney-sponsored turtles that participated in the annual Tour de Turtles, a sea turtle tracking event.