Many of you are aware that a visit to Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom provides an opportunity to get a “behind the scenes” look at our animal care program. One of the highlights of that area is the on-show veterinary hospital window. The veterinary hospital window allows a direct view into our on-show treatment room, radiology (X-ray) room and clinical laboratory. On any given day (usually between the hours of 10 a.m. and noon), veterinarians may be performing routine wellness exams, surgery, or other medical procedures on a variety of animals for all of our guests to see. Every afternoon, members of the hospital team are available outside the window for personal interactions with guests.
One of the most common guest questions we get at the hospital window is, “How do you get a giraffe into the hospital?” The guest might be joking as they watch us work in a treatment room that could never hold a giraffe, but there is a real question there… how do you bring a giraffe to the hospital? The answer is simple: we don’t, we bring the hospital to the giraffe. No matter the size of the animal, we must be able to provide excellence in animal health care to our animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
Advanced portable medical equipment and good old-fashioned hard work allows us to pack up a huge variety of equipment and travel to our backstage animal barns for wellness exams and diagnostic medical procedures. Our mobile veterinary truck and hospital van may carry an anesthesia machine, oxygen tanks, a portable X-ray unit, an ultrasound machine, a surgical laser, dart gun equipment, anesthetic and emergency drugs, monitoring equipment, bandage material, dental tools, surgical supplies, and much, much more. We literally bring the hospital to the patient. Those patients may include giraffes, elephants, rhinos, hippos, manatees, dolphins, and any other large animal not quite suited for the hospital.
So, the next time you visit Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to stop by the on-show veterinary hospital window. As you watch us work on our patients in the hospital or talk with our hospital team, remember that behind the scenes we might be packing up the hospital for another “house call” to a giraffe.