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Wildlife Wednesday: When You Think of Elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. . . Think Big!

posted on July 2nd, 2014 by Kathy Lehnhardt, Curator of Education, Disney’s Animal Programs


Elephant care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a big job! Elephants are intelligent, social, and complex animals so meeting all their care requirements means lots of work and dedication, especially when the herd consists of eight unique individuals to look after. Our Animal Care Team provides daily baths, facility cleaning, foot care, feeding, record keeping, advanced training and enrichment programs all completed in an environment that is safe for both elephants and people. Our Veterinarians are able to perform many medical procedures without tranquilization as a result of effective training, so the elephants actually assist in their own health care. And of course there is plenty of time for elephant social interactions in not one, but three large habitats spanning about seven acres.

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As you can imagine, elephants are big… really big! In fact, they are the largest land animal on our planet. But it’s hard to imagine just how big they are until you stand next to an African bull [male] elephant. Since this is an opportunity very few people have the chance to experience, the Elephant Care Team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom worked with Disney Imagineering to simulate the experience by adding three life-sized silhouettes of elephants on the elephant house:

1. An adult bull at 11 feet tall
2. An adult cow at 8 feet tall
3. A newborn calf at 3 feet tall

Guests participating in the Backstage Safari program now have the chance to safely measure themselves next to an elephant –an elephant silhouette that is – for a real height and size comparison. Day guests onboard the Wildlife Express Train at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can also view the elephant silhouettes as the train passes the backstage elephant house.

To further enhance the area and share our commitment to elephants, both at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and in the wild, the team also added an inscription to the elephant house that proudly declares: “Dedicated to Elephant Care and Conservation.”

Conserving elephants in the wild is also a big job! It is currently estimated that each day, 96 African elephants are killed for various reasons including their ivory tusks. Only by working together can we help protect elephants from illegal poaching.

Walt Disney said it best, “Conservation isn’t just the business of a few people, it’s a matter that concerns all of us … If we will use our riches wisely, if we will protect our wildlife, and preserve our lakes and streams these things will last us for generations to come.”

To learn more about how you can get involved in elephant conservation, visit: www.elephantconservation.org, www.Savetheelephants.com or the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants campaign, at www.96elephants.org.

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

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