Walt Disney "Partners" Statue at Disneyland Resort

Wildlife Wednesdays: A Look Back at a Few Baby Animals Welcomed in 2013

posted on December 18th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


As the year comes to a close, let’s take a look back at a few of the baby animals we welcomed in 2013.

In March, we shared the news about a saddle-billed stork chick hatched at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Not only was this chick a first for its parents, but also a first for the park. In the same post, we reported on the birth of a white-cheeked gibbon. This baby joined a family consisting of mom, dad, big sister and big brother.

Saddle-billed stork chick Infant white-cheeked gibbon and its mother

The summer brought word from Proyecto Titi, a conservation organization that receives support from Disney, about an amazing birth. Tamara, a cotton-top tamarin who lives in the forest of Colombia, South America, had just given birth to her 12th litter and 22nd infant.

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In October, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, we welcomed a baby Hartmann’s mountain zebra. The population of this rare species of zebra is teetering at just under 50 animals in the U.S.

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At Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, we had a record number of sea turtle nests in 2013 — 1,654 to be exact — which resulted in thousands of baby sea turtles. What fantastic news for conservation!

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I also couldn’t go without mentioning our baby siamang twins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Although they weren’t born in 2013, they began spending lots of time this year in their habitat in the Asia area of the park, always under the watchful eye of their dad Kenny and, of course, our animal care team.

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These new additions represent conservation successes for both species in human care and in the wild. They are a source of inspiration for me, and a reminder to do all I can to protect wildlife and nature. I am proud and thankful that our guests tell us again and again that they are inspired too. Happy holidays!

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Among First Green Lodges, Disney Florida Resorts Once Again Receive This Eco-Friendly Honor

posted on November 20th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


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Nearly 10 years ago, when the State of Florida began its Green Lodging program, Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort were among the first hotels in the state to receive this honor. The rest of our resorts soon followed. I’m proud to report that The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently renewed the Green Lodging designation for all the Disney-owned and operated resorts in Florida.

This three-year distinction is a way to recognize hotels that help protect Florida’s natural resources through efforts that reduce waste, conserve water and energy, improve air quality, and raise awareness of environmental conservation. Here are a few of the ways we are working to conserve resources at our resorts:

  • Recycling in guest rooms and resort public areas, and printing in-room guest information on recycled paper.
  • Creatively using energy-efficient lighting, monitoring thermostats, and turning off lights and equipment when not in use.
  • Collecting for recycling by Clean the World used soaps, shampoos, conditioners and lotions, which are then reprocessed and distributed by this nonprofit organization to impoverished people with a goal of preventing millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses. In 2012 alone, cast members collected more than 128,000 pounds of hygiene products that were reprocessed into 393,000 soap bars.
  • Through the Disney Harvest program, collecting unused prepared foods from resort kitchens that is distributed through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. More than 1,000 local children are fed weekly through this program.

Ways in Which Disney Florida Resorts Promote Conservation Ways in Which Disney Florida Resorts Promote Conservation

A big thank you goes out to our guests, who join us in conserving resources, including by recycling, switching off lights, TVs and ceiling fans, and adjusting thermostats when they leave their resort rooms.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Fun Facts Shared on Rhino Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on November 6th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


What does your hair have in common with a rhino horn?

To answer the question above: If your hair can be unruly like mine, hopefully it’s not your look on a bad hair day! What do they have in common? Human hair and a rhino’s horn are both made of keratin, a protein that is a basic component of our fingernails, too.

Guests who visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Rhino Day (November 12) will discover lots of fun facts about the magnificent rhinoceros. Here are a couple more: A group of rhinos is called a “crash,” and there are five kinds of rhino: white, black, Indian, Sumatran and Javan. Every day, guests can see white and black rhinos on the Kilimanjaro Safaris, including the rhino calf that was born last year. And on the Wild Africa Trek, guests can relax on the boma landing and watch the white rhinos and many other animals on the savannas. On Rhino Day, guests can participate in special activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, including learning what rhinos eat, how we care for the rhinos at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the creative ways that the animal care team is supporting rhino conservation.

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Did you know?

  • The success of the white rhino breeding program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has enabled our animal care team to make a direct contribution to the conservation of white rhinos in the wild. In 2006, Nande and Hasani, two rhinos born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, traveled to Africa to join four others at Ziwa Sanctuary in Uganda, where they are helping to reestablish a population that had been extinct since the 1980s. In 2009, Nande became the first white rhino to give birth in Uganda in 27 years; she gave birth to a second calf in 2011.
  • This year, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is supporting projects that protect black and Sumatran rhinos. To find out more, visit www.disney.com/conservation

Read more stories about these celebrations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

A Special Treat: Walt Disney World Wins Sustainability Award for “Making the Switch” to Save Electricity

posted on October 31st, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Saving electricity is no trick—like many efforts to protect our planet, it can be hard work. That makes receiving the Sustainable Florida Best Practice Award in the large business category even more of a special treat.

Yesterday, I had the honor of accepting this award on behalf of the Walt Disney World Resort for our “Make the Switch” electricity conservation program, along with two of my partners in this important work, Mark Todd, Vice President, Engineering Services and Manufacturing, and Dan Cockerell, Vice President, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The award was announced at the “Working on the Green Sustainability Summit” here in Orlando, Florida.

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We are especially proud to receive this award because it is recognition of Disney’s long-standing commitment to the environment, conservation and the natural world. This legacy started with Walt Disney himself and, thanks to our cast members, it has continued to grow. As Disney cast members, each and every one of us has the privilege—and the responsibility—to champion this important part of Walt’s legacy by leading the way in environmental stewardship.

To save electricity, cast members have been doing small things that make a big difference like switching off lights and equipment when not in use. We’ve also been implementing major programs like using energy-efficient lighting in innovative ways, and enhancing energy management and air-conditioning systems throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. Our guests are joining us in conserving electricity to help protect our planet by switching off lights, TVs and ceiling fans, and adjusting thermostats when they leave their resort rooms.

Of course, there’s a lot more we want to accomplish! We’re always looking for new ways to conserve resources, including electricity. To find out more about all of our environmental goals, please visit www.disney.com/environment.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’

posted on October 23rd, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Hanging up bat decorations for Halloween is great holiday fun but at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we also want to keep real bats hanging around. Bats play a critical role in nature, helping to control pests and pollinate countless plants, including delicious fruits like bananas and mangoes.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’

On Halloween, we’re celebrating Bat Day with special activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch where guests will discover that bats are cool, not creepy. Guests can enter a “bat cave” and test their skills at identifying North American bats. Fun games help guests learn what bats eat and what challenges they face. Guests also can meet our bat keepers and find out how we care for the bats that make their home on the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They might even see one of our bats getting its wellness exam in the Veterinary Hospital.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’ Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’

Did you know?

  • The Malayan Flying Fox, which guests can see on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, is one of the largest bats in the world with a wingspan of close to 6 feet. Another bat species at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Rodrigues fruit bat.
  • Contrary to popular myths, bats are not blind and do not become entangled in human hair.
  • For 2013, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) is supporting Bat Conservation International projects that are helping to protect long-nosed bats in the Caribbean, golden-capped fruit bats in the Philippines and straw-colored bats in Africa. This year, the DWCF also is supporting a Lubee Bat Conservancy project that is helping flying foxes in Madagascar.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Worldwide Conservation Leaders Gather at Walt Disney World Resort to Focus on ‘One Plan’ Approach to Help Wildlife

posted on October 16th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Did you know that the beautiful golden lion tamarin — which guests can see at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — might be extinct in its native Brazil if zoological facilities hadn’t helped? With fewer than 200 left, zoos around the world banded together to reintroduce golden lion tamarins born in their facilities to the wild. These animals joined wild golden lion tamarins to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.
A Golden Lion Tamarin, Like the Ones Guests Can See at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Most people think of zoos, aquariums and other wildlife parks as great places to see amazing animals and to connect with nature—and they are. What people may not be aware of is all of the conservation work that these facilities do and what a huge impact they have. This includes, of course, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.

Over the past week, we’ve been proud to host here at the Walt Disney World Resort conservation leaders from around the world. Some are here as part of their attendance at the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) Annual Meeting. (CBSG is a global network of conservation professionals.) The remainder are here to attend the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) Annual Conference. (WAZA members are leading zoos, aquariums and related organizations from around the world.)
Jörg Junhold, Director, Leipzig Zoo, Germany, and Gerald Dick, WAZA Executive Director, with Jackie Ogden

The success of the effort to save golden lion tamarins is a great example of what CBSG and WAZA members refer to as a “One Plan” approach to species conservation, with a goal of one comprehensive conservation plan for wildlife whether they are in human care or in their native habitats.

Did you know?

  • Golden lion tamarins are an endangered species native to Brazil’s Atlantic coastal forest. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has helped support long-term conservation efforts to protect the golden lion tamarin’s forest home.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom also is home to two other tamarin species: emperor tamarins and cotton-top tamarins (visit www.proyectotiti.com to find out more about conservation efforts led by Dr. Anne Savage, Conservation Director at Disney’s Animal Kingdom).
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Elephants Eat Their Fruits and Veggies, and a Whole Lot More! Find out on Elephant Appreciation Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on September 25th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


We know that lots of fruits and veggies are part of a healthy diet. Apparently, elephants know that too. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, an adult male elephant will eat 28 pounds of produce in one day–and that’s not all! He’ll also eat 7 bales of hay, 5 bundles of grass, 2-to-3 bundles of browse, and 15 pounds of grain. And as we try to drink 8 or more glasses of water each day, elephants will guzzle 25-50 gallons of water. It all adds up to about 400-600 pounds of food in a day, which is as much as an average person eats in an entire year.
Elephants Eat Their Fruits and Veggies, and a Whole Lot More!

Guests who visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom tomorrow (September 26) will learn lots of fun and informative facts about elephants during our Elephant Appreciation Day celebration, taking place at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

In addition to learning what—and how much—an elephant eats, guests who stop by Rafiki’s Planet Watch can:

  • Test their skills at “eating like an elephant” using a replica of an elephant trunk.
  • Color an elephant mask that they can take home.
  • Learn about the elephants that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and talk with members of our elephant care team.
  • Discover how bee sounds are being used to help keep elephants away from crops.
  • Find out about elephant conservation efforts supported through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund

Elephants Eat Their Fruits and Veggies, and a Whole Lot More!

Did you know?

  • Every day, guests experiencing the Kilimanjaro Safaris and Wild Africa Trek can see members of the Disney’s Animal Kingdom elephant herd.
  • Jabali, who is two years old, is the youngest member of the herd. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is part of a breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in North America.
  • Disney scientists study elephant communication—using audio-recording collars. Elephants make powerful, low-frequency “rumbles” that humans often cannot hear and can communicate over distances of several miles using these rumbles. Learn more at the Wildlife Tracking Center at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Disney scientists conduct hormone analyses, using specialized tests called immunoassays, to monitor the reproductive status of the female elephants before and during pregnancy. Guests can watch scientists perform these and other analyses in the Wildlife Tracking Center.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Vultures and Manatees Demystified at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot

posted on September 4th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Vultures and manatees are two creatures that often are misunderstood. That’s one reason why it’s so much fun for us to showcase them with special activities — there’s so much to learn about! For example, take a look at the following:
“Vultures

  • Myth or fact: Vultures can help prevent the spread of rabies. This is a fact — by eating the carcasses of dead animals, vultures help prevent the spread of life-threatening diseases, such as rabies, among animals and humans.

“Manatees

  • Myth or fact: Manatees are closely related to cows (or walruses, or seals). This is a myth — although they are sometimes called sea cows, elephants are one of the manatee’s closest relatives.

Guests can find out all about vultures during special activities in celebration of International Vulture Awareness Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on September 5 and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge on September 7. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, activities will take place near the Tree of Life and at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, activities will take place in the Jambo House lobby. Year-round, guests can see lappet-faced vultures at the Tree of Life, black vultures at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Ruppell’s griffon vultures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends on September 7, special activities are designed to help guests learn about manatees and how to protect them in celebration of International Manatee Day. For example, guests will find out that manatees belong to a group of aquatic, plant-eating mammals called sirenians. They also will learn that actions all of us can take to keep waterways clean, such as recycling plastic bottles and used fishing line, can protect these majestic mammals. Rescued manatees Lou and Vail make their home at The Seas. The marine mammal team said that Lou and Vail will be celebrating International Manatee Day too, by eating fruits and vegetables from local farmers markets.

Among the 2013 projects supported by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund are projects helping protect vultures and manatees. To find out more, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

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Disney Parks Blog Fans Choose ‘Mosi’ As Name For First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 31st, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


The votes are in! Disney Parks Blog fans chose “Mosi” (which means “first”) as the name for the first Masai giraffe calf born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Our animal care team is thrilled that so many people voted to help choose his name. Other choices that received a lot of votes were “Baraka” (which means “blessing”) and “Shingo” (which means “long neck”), but ultimately “Mosi” was the winner. Thank you so much for caring as much about the baby giraffe as we do!

Mosi, the First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney's Animal Kingdom Mosi, the First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney's Animal Kingdom

I have some more great news – yesterday, Mosi ventured out with his mom on the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna for the first time. We are very pleased to share a photo and some video of Mosi’s first day on the savanna. Enjoy!

 
The next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be on the lookout for Mosi and the rest of the giraffe herd on Kilimanjaro Safaris and Wild Africa Trek.


Read on for more updates from Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Vote To Name the First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 24th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Vote To Name the First Masai Giraffe Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Our very first Masai giraffe calf, a male, was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom recently and will go out on the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna within the next few weeks. We are excited to have you pick the baby’s name from a list prepared by our animal care team. It’s easy to cast your vote. Check the list below, make your choice and keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog to find out what name gets the most votes—I’ll post the results next Wednesday (July 31).

Did you know?

  • There are two subspecies of giraffe—Masai and reticulated—roaming the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna. Most are now Masai giraffe, with reticulated giraffe making their home on the savannas of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Having two kinds of giraffe enables cast members to share even more great stories about these amazing animals.
  • The Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) can be found in southern Kenya and throughout Tanzania. Reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) are widely found in northern Kenya and in Somalia.
  • The Masai giraffe’s coat features jagged-edged patches. The patches are dark brown on a cream background, making the Masai the darkest-colored subspecies. The reticulated giraffe’s coat features a pattern of very defined patches that usually are orangish brown. The patches are separated by bright white lines, and the lower part of the legs are a lighter color.
  • It is estimated that there are fewer than 40,000 Masai giraffe in the wild. The reticulated giraffe is more threatened in the wild, with numbers fewer than 5,000. Giraffes are threatened by habitat loss and habitat fragmentation, poaching, and human-wildlife conflicts.
  • The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) helps to support conservation programs for wildlife like giraffes. For example, through a recent project, the DWCF helped Tusk Trust USA and the Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy reintroduce Rothschild’s giraffes in Kenya. This program also enhances community awareness of wildlife conservation through anti-poaching, wildlife monitoring, and educational programs in local schools. Since its inception in 1995, the DWCF has provided more than $4.5 million to support habitat conservation for giraffes and other African wildlife. Through a collaboration with Disneynature and the “See ‘African Cats,’ Save the Savanna” campaign, the DWCF also helped the African Wildlife Foundation to protect more than 65,000 acres of land in Kenya’s Amboseli Wildlife Corridor to enable indigenous animals including giraffes, cheetahs, and lions to roam freely between protected habitats.

What name did you vote for? Tell us about your favorite in the “Comments” section below or join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #DisneyGiraffe.

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