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Wildlife Wednesday: On Your Mark, Get Set… Let Them Go! – Sea Turtles Set Off On Migratory Journey

posted on July 30th, 2014 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


This past weekend, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort hosted the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s annual “Tour de Turtles” event which allows sea turtle fans to follow the marathon migration of 12 sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds.

This year, Olaf’s summer dream in the Academy Award winning Disney Animation Studios film “Frozen” inspired us to feature him in our event and name the turtles after his friends Anna and Elsa. The morning began as each loggerhead sea turtle was outfitted with a satellite transmitter. Now that the females have finished nesting for the season, it is time for them to head to their foraging grounds so that they can begin feasting on those tasty crustaceans. The transmitters allow us to track the path to Anna and Elsa’s favorite foraging grounds.

Wildlife Wednesday: On Your Mark, Get Set… Let Them Go! – Sea Turtles Set Off On Migratory Journey Wildlife Wednesday: On Your Mark, Get Set… Let Them Go! – Sea Turtles Set Off On Migratory Journey

As the “turtle safe” adhesive dried, guests had the opportunity to participate in various activities as they learned more about sea turtles and earned stamps for completed activities in their nature journal. Guests watched as Disney’s Animal Programs cast members conducted a nest inventory and counted the number of eggs in a recently hatched sea turtle nest; discovered ways they can help hatchlings including knocking down sand castles after they leave the beach, and realized how difficult it could be for a sea turtle to free itself if tangled in plastic debris.

Wildlife Wednesday: On Your Mark, Get Set… Let Them Go! – Sea Turtles Set Off On Migratory Journey Wildlife Wednesday: On Your Mark, Get Set… Let Them Go! – Sea Turtles Set Off On Migratory Journey

Each sea turtle involved in “Tour de Turtles” acts as an ambassador to raise awareness about a specific threat to sea turtles. Sea turtle ‘Anna’ (sponsored by Disney’s Animal Programs and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort) is swimming to raise awareness about light pollution. Many don’t realize that bright beachfront lighting from buildings and flashlights from people walking on the beach can deter nesting turtles, draw hatchlings inland and prevent them from safely reaching the ocean. It’s important to close your curtains to prevent light from shining on the beach or using sea turtle-friendly fixtures that shield the light from the beach and never use a flashlight during sea turtle nesting season at night! Sea turtle ‘Elsa’ (sponsored by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund) is focused on the troubling amount of plastic debris in oceans around the world. The debris breaks into small pieces that are eaten by sea turtles and other marine wildlife, which causes the animals severe digestive troubles. Over the years, the consumption of this plastic debris has caused the deaths of over 100 million marine animals and floating marine debris can also lead to turtles becoming entangled in plastic, fishing line, nets and more. You can help by picking up litter, purchasing reusable grocery bags, recycling, and not releasing balloons.

Youth from the local Boys & Girls Club learned all about how scientists develop tracking devices to monitor sea turtle migration pattern in the ocean and had a front row seat to watch Anna and Elsa’s return to the ocean. Everyone wished Anna and Elsa well on their ocean journey and we look forward
to their return when they are ready to lay more eggs in two years. Check out the gallery below for more photos from the event!

You can cheer on Anna, Elsa and other turtles that are part of Tour de Turtles by logging on to http://www.tourdeturtles.org/. You can track the migration paths of 4 species of sea turtles and learn more about sea turtle conservation.

Turtle2014 286

For more from the “Wildlife Wednesday” series, check out the posts below:

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

posted on January 29th, 2014 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


I have fantastic news from the 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count, which took place last Saturday. We counted a record number of birds and, for the first time, guests joined in the count during Magical Moments.

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Cast Members and their families, guided by Disney’s Animal Programs bird experts, counted more than 24,000 birds representing 119 species at the Walt Disney World Resort and surrounding area. This is a new record for the most birds and the most species observed since we started the bird count four years ago. It’s obvious that our feathered friends enjoy the Walt Disney World Resort as much as our guests do!

Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

And this year, for the first time, guests joined the count during Magical Moments, some counting birds side-by-side with Walt Disney World Ambassador Rich Tamayo. At Disney’s Pop Century and Disney’s Art of Animation Resorts, for example, guests counted hooded mergansers (a colorful member of the duck family) coming in to roost on a pond between the resorts, along with little blue herons, tri-colored herons, snowy egrets, and many other birds.

New species that we counted this year included the black-bellied whistling duck, common goldeneye, ruddy duck, American pipit, field sparrow, grasshopper sparrow and the beautiful painted bunting.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

Did you participate in a bird count during the past year? If so, tell us about your favorite moment in the comments.

Did you know?

  • Our Holiday Bird Count is modeled after the Audubon Christmas bird count, which began in 1900. Data collected in bird counts from year to year allow scientists to follow trends in bird populations and abundance over time. These trends help scientists focus their conservation efforts in key bird areas
  • We can help birds and other wildlife by disposing of waste properly, including recycling, to keep trash out of natural areas, and by observing birds and other wildlife from a safe distance and not feeding them “human” food, which is not healthy for them.
  • Since 1995, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has provided more than $6.1 million to support bird conservation around the world. In Florida, the DWCF has helped protect birds, including the whooping crane, bald eagle, scrub jay, red-cockaded woodpecker and mangrove cuckoo.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Endangered Cotton-Top Tamarins Receive Gift of Protected Forest

posted on December 11th, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


I am thrilled to report that critically endangered cotton-top tamarins in Colombia, South America, received an amazing gift just in time for the holidays — the gift of an additional area of protected forest. This tiny monkey with the wild hairdo, which guests can see when they visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is native only in Colombia, and there are fewer than 7,500 remaining.

Ctop Holiday Border

An area of forest in Santa Catalina, Colombia, has been officially declared a protected area for the cotton-top by Cardique, a regional environmental protection agency in that country.

Proyecto Titi, a conservation organization in Colombia whose mission is to save the cotton-top tamarin, has been working to call attention to some of the last remaining forested areas for cotton-tops. The newly-protected area has been a long-term field site for the study of cotton-tops by Proyecto Titi.

Last year 900 hectares (over 2,200 acres) in the Atlántico region of Colombia was declared a protected area for cotton-tops, and now another 421 protected hectares (over 1,000 acres) has been added.

The next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to stop by to see the cotton-top tamarins. You can see them in a habitat in front of the Tree of Life and also at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

You can find out even more about cotton-top tamarins at www.proyectotiti.com and how the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is helping cotton-tops, other tamarins and wildlife around the world at www.disney.com/conservation.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Record Number of Sea Turtle Nests This Year at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

posted on December 4th, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


The 2013 sea turtle nesting season is over, and the results are in. This year, we had a record number of sea turtle nests on the beach near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort!

Three species of sea turtles nest on the beach at the resort: loggerhead sea turtles, green sea turtles and leatherback sea turtles. In 2013, we broke our record for the most nesting green sea turtles on the stretch of beach monitored by the Disney’s Animal Programs team. An amazing 569 green sea turtle nests were documented. And it was our second highest year on record for loggerhead nesting, with 1,077 nests counted. We also counted 8 nests for the huge leatherback turtle. The number of nests is great news for the conservation of these endangered sea turtles.

Speaking of conservation, we also now have the results from the 2013 Tour de Turtles, a wonderful sea turtle conservation and research program. Two Disney-sponsored turtles, Carrie and Claire, both loggerheads, took part in the race.

Record Number of Sea Turtle Nests This Year at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Record Number of Sea Turtle Nests This Year at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

Carrie came in fourth place, but she came in first place in the “Causes Challenge” — she was swimming to raise awareness about the threat of light pollution on the beach. Since sea turtle hatchlings rely on moonlight to find their way to the ocean, many become disoriented and drawn off-course by artificial light sources. In another first, Carrie came ashore twice in the same year to nest near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Her two nests resulted in 161 hatchlings each, for a total of 322 hatchlings!

Claire was not far behind, placing sixth in the Tour de Turtles and receiving an honorable mention in the “Causes Challenge” for raising awareness about the dangers of sea turtles ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic debris. Claire’s nest had 99 hatchlings.

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What an exciting year! And here’s to a successful 2014 sea turtle nesting season — we’ll be sure to tell you how it goes!

Remember, all of us can help sea turtles by taking action to reduce, reuse and recycle; by making sure that we dispose of trash properly; by turning off unnecessary lights that may be visible on nesting beaches; and by observing turtles and other wildlife from a safe distance, taking care not to disturb them or their habitats. To find out more about Disney’s conservation efforts, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: 99 Baby Sea Turtles for Tour de Turtles Mom at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

posted on October 2nd, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


UPDATE 10/3: This just in! We inventoried Carrie’s first nest today (remember she nested twice), and it had a “monstrous” number of hatchlings—161 to be exact. This is our largest loggerhead nest this year!

It’s a boy . . . and a girl . . . and another boy . . . and another girl! Well, we don’t know exactly how many boy and girls there were (did you know that the sex of a baby sea turtle is determined by the temperature of the nest?), but we do know that Tour de Turtles loggerhead sea turtle mom Claire’s nest had 99 hatchlings.
Wildlife Wednesdays: 99 Baby Sea Turtles for Tour de Turtles Mom at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

Those of you who’ve been following our Tour de Turtles posts over the summer know that, in July, two Disney-sponsored sea turtles, Claire and Carrie (named for characters in the Disney•Pixar film “Monsters University“), who had laid their eggs the night before, returned to the sea at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. The turtles were fitted with satellite transmitters and released near the resort as part of the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s annual “Tour de Turtles“, which follows the marathon migration of 12 sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds.

Just a few days ago, Claire’s hatchlings emerged from their nest. We’re still awaiting the results of Carrie’s nests — in a Tour de Turtles first, she came ashore twice in the same year to nest near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. During nesting season, guests visiting Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot can adopt the nest of a sea turtle that lays her eggs at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.

The adoption fee is directed through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) to sea turtle conservation efforts in Florida. This past nesting season, guests adopted nearly 200 turtle nests, resulting in more than $7,000 directed to the DWCF to support conservation of Florida’s sea turtles and their habitats this year.

Want to find out more about Disney’s sea turtle conservation efforts? Check out our new video.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: A Tour de Turtles First! Sea Turtle Returns to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort to Nest Again in the Same Year

posted on August 21st, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


Just a few weeks ago, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort guests cheered as two giant loggerhead sea turtles returned to the sea after nesting on the beach. The turtles had been fitted with satellite transmitters to help with conservation efforts as part of the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s annual “Tour de Turtles,” which tracks the turtles to their foraging grounds.

Last week, one of those sea turtles returned to nest again near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Carrie, named for a character in the Disney•Pixar film “Monsters University,” was spotted by members of our turtle monitoring team who were surveying the beach for nesting turtles. Carrie was easy to spot — she is a “monstrously” large loggerhead turtle — and she was wearing her Tour de Turtles satellite transmitter.

Carrie Returns to Nest Again Near Disney's Vero Beach Resort

Carrie is the first loggerhead to be documented nesting twice during the same Tour de Turtles race! Carrie laid her eggs exactly 14 days after her first clutch, and her second nest is within a half mile of her Tour de Turtles nest. How is that for being able to find your way back to your nesting beach!

What a year it has been for sea turtles! First, one of our Disney-sponsored 2011 Tour de Turtles sea turtles, Lightning McQueen, came back this summer to lay her eggs near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and now Carrie has a second nest in the same year. We also are on track for having a monstrously successful sea turtle nesting season. We have broken our 10-year record and have more green sea turtle nests (432 on our 7-kilometer stretch of beach near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort) as of last week, and we are on track to have the second highest year for loggerheads (1,039 nests as of last week). The record was set last year with 1,365. Will we break the record this year? Maybe Carrie knows the answer!

You can track Carrie, Claire (our other Disney-sponsored turtle), and all of the 2013 Tour de Turtles sea turtles online at www.tourdeturtles.org.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Mom of 22 Among Cotton-Top Tamarins Celebrated This Month at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on August 7th, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


I first “met” Tamara, a cotton-top tamarin who lives in the forest in Colombia, South America, when she was still in her mom’s belly. Thirteen years later (a ripe old age for a cotton-top), she continues to amaze me. Cotton-tops usually give birth to twins, and she recently gave birth to her 12th litter and 22nd infant!

Tamara, Mom of 22 Among Cotton-Top Tamarins Celebrated This Month at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Over the years, Tamara has been a fantastic mom and family member. Thanks to her resourcefulness, Tamara’s family has continued to thrive in their forest home. And she has helped us to learn so much about cotton-top tamarins. For example, we had no idea how many infants a female in the wild could produce. Thanks to Tamara, we’ve had the opportunity at the conservation organization dedicated to cotton-tops, Proyecto Titi, to study all of her infants and learn so much about these fascinating animals. Luckily for Tamara, cotton-top moms don’t raise their babies all by themselves. The babies’ dad, brothers and sisters all help to take care of the babies.

Tamara, Mom of 22 Among Cotton-Top Tamarins Celebrated This Month at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This month at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we’re celebrating Tamara and rest of the cotton-tops, critically endangered monkeys found only in Colombia, where August 15 has been proclaimed a national holiday — the Day of the Cotton-Top Tamarin. If you visit Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you can find out about cotton-top tamarins’ favorite foods, how scientists locate them in the forest, and even how to do the cotton-top tamarin dance. Other highlights include face painters and caricature artists with designs featuring cotton-top tamarins created just for the celebration. And, take my word for it, the cotton-top tamarin cupcakes are too delicious to pass up.

Every day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can see cotton-top and other tamarins in Habitat Habit!, on the trail to Conservation Station in Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Guests also can see cotton-tops in Discovery Island near the Tree of Life.

Credit: Hoffner; Proyecto Titi has Taught Women to Crochet Using Plastic Bags Which Help Communities in Columbia Protect Forests that the Cotton-Top Tamarins Call Home Credit: Hoffner; Proyecto Titi has Taught Women to Crochet Using Plastic Bags Which Help Communities in Columbia Protect Forests that the Cotton-Top Tamarins Call Home Credit: Hoffner; Proyecto Titi has Taught Women to Crochet Using Plastic Bags Which Help Communities in Columbia Protect Forests that the Cotton-Top Tamarins Call Home

Did you know?

  • Cotton-top tamarins and plastic bags actually have something in common. Proyecto Titi has taught women to crochet using plastic bags like the ones we bring home from the grocery store (what a great way to recycle and keep trash out of the forest!). They make these beautiful, colorful tote bags called eco-mochilas, which are sold at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Purchasing an eco-mochila helps communities in Colombia protect forests that the cotton-top tamarins call home.
  • You can find out even more about cotton-top tamarins at www.proyectotiti.com and how the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is helping cotton-tops, other tamarins and wildlife around the world at www.disney.com/conservation.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Sea Turtles, Facing Monstrous Challenges, Return to the Sea at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

posted on July 31st, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


Last Saturday morning, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort guests connected with nature in a way that few people get to experience when they cheered on two giant, loggerhead sea turtles named for Disney characters – who had laid their eggs on the beach the night before – as they returned to the sea. The turtles were fitted with satellite transmitters and released near the resort as part of the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s annual “Tour de Turtles,” which follows the marathon migration of 11 sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds.

Sea Turtles, Facing Monstrous Challenges, Return to the Sea Cheered On by Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Guests

The sea turtles, Carrie (sponsored by Disney’s Animal Programs and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort) and Claire (sponsored by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund), were named for two of the characters in the Disney•Pixar film “Monsters University.” Sea turtles face monstrous challenges throughout their lifetime, but all of us can help.

Guests at Disney's Vero Beach Resort Learn About the Monstrous Challenges that Sea Turtles Face

Each turtle in Tour de Turtles acts as an ambassador to raise awareness about a specific threat to sea turtles. Carrie is raising awareness about the threat of light pollution on the beach. Since sea turtle hatchlings rely on moonlight to find their way to the ocean, many become disoriented and drawn off-course by artificial light sources. We can help by turning off unnecessary lights that may be visible on nesting beaches. Claire is raising awareness about the threat of plastic debris. Many turtles have been killed by swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic debris, including plastic bags and fishing lines. We can help by recycling and putting trash in appropriate containers.

Sea Turtles, Facing Monstrous Challenges, Return to the Sea Cheered On by Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Guests and Cast Members, Including the Local Boys & Girls Club

Watch the video to see the huge send-off by more than 600 guests and cast members, including children from the local Boys & Girls Club, our Walt Disney World Ambassadors and Disney VoluntEARS.

Did you know?

  • Researchers from Disney’s Animal Programs and the Sea Turtle Conservancy will track the sea turtles using satellite telemetry as they travel from their nesting beach to various feeding grounds. Using this technology, scientists learn about sea turtles’ habits at sea and the different migratory patterns of each species. This knowledge helps researchers, conservationists and governing agencies make more informed decisions about sea turtle conservation actions and policies. People worldwide can view the sea turtles’ progress online at www.tourdeturtles.org. Lightning McQueen, a sea turtle sponsored by Disney from the 2011 Tour de Turtles, returned again this year to the beach near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort to nest, and her eggs hatched just a few weeks ago with the baby turtles heading out to sea.
  • Of the nearly than $20 million that the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) has distributed since the fund’s inception, more than $1 million has helped support sea turtle conservation around the world. Guests visiting Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot can adopt the nest of one of the sea turtles that lays her eggs at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, including Carrie’s and Claire’s. The adoption fee is directed through the DWCF to sea turtle conservation efforts in Florida.
  • The team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate and conserve turtles and tortoises every day. Over the years, for example, the Disney’s Animal Programs team has nursed more than 300 endangered sea turtles back to health and released them back to their home in the sea.
  • At Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, the Disney’s Animal Programs team monitors sea turtle nesting activity on several miles of beach near the resort, and examines what factors contribute to successful hatching of the sea turtle nests. Resort guests can get involved too. For example, kids can join Turtle Troop, a fun and educational experience that combines crafts and a walk on the beach to see a sea turtle nest up close.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cast Cares for Pets, as Well as Endangered Monkeys, in Colombia

posted on April 10th, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


I just returned from an inspiring trip to Colombia, South America, and am excited to tell you about it. As part of our conservation program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we are working to protect a critically endangered monkey, the cotton-top tamarin found only in Colombia. Proyecto Tití also works with local communities to reduce the number of cotton-top tamarins that are in the illegal pet trade. Their program teaches kids to keep “wildlife in the wild” and to say “No” to pet monkeys and “Yes” to building a special bond with their dogs or cats.
Disney’s Animal Care Team Promotes Dog Training in Colombia

Of course, teaching the kids and their families how to keep their pets healthy is an important part of this, and representatives from the University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine came to Colombia as part of a pilot program that included providing vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and other medical care for the dogs and cats of Los Limites, a village that borders our cotton-top tamarin field site. Keeping the pets healthy also reduces the possibility of disease transmission to both the people and the wildlife in the area.

Disney’s Animal Care Team Promotes Dog Training in Colombia Disney’s Animal Care Team Promotes Dog Training in Colombia

We also wanted to help kids and their families develop a new appreciation for their pets by helping kids understand how their dogs are smart and motivated to please. Disney’s animal care team members Marty MacPhee, Maggio Gonio, and Mauricio Saldarriaga helped create a program, which we piloted with a group of kids from Los Limites, on how to train your dog and learn about dog behavior. Mauricio traveled with me to Colombia to teach the program. Included were great activities that helped the kids learn how to decode dog behavior by watching the position of a dog’s ears and tail, and, of course, keeping an eye out for facial expressions and learning to speak “dog.” They really loved creating their own dog mask with moveable ears and acting out different dog behaviors. They really enjoyed playing the training game, trying to train each other to perform a specific behavior without using words. It really is hard to get someone to understand what you want when you can’t use words. But once the kids learned that the sound of a clicker means that you are correct, and that there is a tasty treat on the way, they found a new way to train their own dogs! Take a look at the short video clip of one of the children, Angie, training her dog, Congo. Be sure to look closely for the not-so-hidden Mickey hand on the end of the target stick!

 
At the end of the program, we had a graduation ceremony, and the children received diplomas for completing their first dog training class. They were so proud of everything they had accomplished. Seeing their smiling faces, and their heartfelt promise to keep training and caring for their dogs, makes me realize just how important programs like these are for kids who live in Los Limites. Helping people care for their dogs, so that they can appreciate just how much fun it is to have that special relationship with a pet, is not only good for people, but ultimately helps protect the wildlife of Colombia.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Local Girl Scouts Join Cast Members for Third Annual Walt Disney World Holiday Bird Count – Over 16,000 Birds Counted

posted on January 30th, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


Local Girl Scouts Join Cast Members for Third Annual Walt Disney World Holiday Bird Count Local Girl Scouts Join Cast Members for Third Annual Walt Disney World Holiday Bird Count

Guests tell us they love connecting with nature in our beautiful green spaces during their visits to the Walt Disney World Resort, so I’m especially excited to share some news and a fun video from our third annual Walt Disney World Holiday Bird Count, organized by our Disney’s Animal Programs team for cast members and their families. This year, thanks to Walt Disney World Community Relations, members of four Central Florida Girl Scout troops joined cast members to count 107 different bird species and over 16,000 individual birds! Holiday Bird Count participants spotted some new species this year: Virginia Rail, Sora and a Merlin, as well as 20 Bald Eagles! Highlights included spotting several Great Blue Herons high up in the trees keeping a watchful eye over their nests — two nests in one tree — and a Blue Jay that was mimicking a hawk vocalizing as he chased a squirrel!

Local Girl Scouts Join Cast Members for Third Annual Walt Disney World Holiday Bird Count Local Girl Scouts Join Cast Members for Third Annual Walt Disney World Holiday Bird Count Local Girl Scouts Join Cast Members for Third Annual Walt Disney World Holiday Bird Count

 
The day-long event enabled birders of all skill levels to discover which birds are found in Central Florida in the winter. In addition to inviting local Girl Scouts, another new element this year was a Family Birding Festival, where the Girl Scouts and cast members’ kids participated in a variety of fun activities that helped them learn to recognize bird calls and discover the amazing adaptations of various bird species that enable birds to thrive in the wild. Children and adults also participated in a nature walk to identify birds in the area, and they got to meet some of the amazing birds that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Enjoy the video — and let us know if you see any birds that also live in your hometown.

 
Did you know?

  • Since 1995, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has provided more than $6 million to support bird conservation around the world. In Florida, the DWCF has helped protect birds, including the Whooping Crane, Bald Eagle, Scrub Jay, Red-Cockaded Woodpecker and Mangrove Cuckoo.
  • Our Holiday Bird Count is modeled after the Audubon Christmas bird count, which began in 1900.
  • Data collected in bird counts from year to year allows scientists to follow trends in bird populations and abundance over time. These trends help scientists focus their conservation efforts in key bird areas.
  • Nearly one third of the Walt Disney World Resort has been set aside as a dedicated wildlife conservation area.
  • An abundance of birds make their home in Florida year-round, and even more birds are here during the winter as they migrate from the north to Florida and beyond. You can find out more at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on May 8 as we celebrate International Migratory Bird Day.
  • We can help birds and other wildlife by disposing of waste properly, including recycling, to keep trash out of natural areas, and by observing birds and other wildlife from a safe distance and not feeding them “human” food, which is not healthy for them.

 
Read on for more “Wildlife Wednesdays”:

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