Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park

Wildlife Wednesdays: Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Batty about Bats on Halloween and Every Day

posted on October 24th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Think bats are scary? The scariest thing about bats is not having them around. Do you like bananas, cashews, cotton t-shirts, pickles or peaches? If so, you can thank a bat. From pest control to pollination, bats worldwide are important to people and nature.

Bats at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom can get to know bats better during a celebration on Halloween (what better day to celebrate bats?) devoted exclusively to this special-not-spooky species.

At Conservation Station, guests can discover what bats like to eat and where they live. By participating in a variety of games and activities, they can learn cool bat facts and what all of us can do to be sure that bats “hang around.” Guests also can meet our bat keepers and find out how we care for the bats (Malayan Flying Foxes and Rodrigues fruit bats) that make their home on the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Guests Can Meet the Bat Keepers at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Did you know?

  • Contrary to popular misconceptions, bats are not blind and do not become entangled in human hair.
  • As the only mammal capable of true flight, the more than 1,200 species of bats range in size from the world’s smallest mammal, the tiny bumblebee bat that weighs less than a penny, to giant flying foxes with six-foot wingspans.
  • Many bat species consume vast quantities of insects, including the most damaging agricultural pests. For example, a single little brown bat can eat more than 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in just one hour.
  • Loss of bats increases demand for chemical pesticides. As insect-eating machines, bats save farmers billions of dollars annually.
  • From deserts to rainforests, nectar-feeding bats are critical pollinators for a wide variety of plants of great economic and ecological value.
  • For 20l2, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is supporting a Bat Conservation International project that is protecting an estimated eight million straw-colored fruit bats in Africa during their seasonal migration.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Do Elephants Drink Through Their Trunks? This and Other Questions Answered on Elephant Awareness Day, September 26, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on September 19th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


A myth that pops up from time to time is that elephants use their trunks to drink, like we would use a straw. This would be similar to people sticking their noses in a glass of water when they wanted a drink! Elephants, unlike people, do use their trunks to help them drink, but they only suck the water part of the way up and then use their trunks to squirt the water into their mouths.

In Addition to Sucking Up Water to Squirt in Their Mouths and Picking Up Food, Elephants’ Trunks Are Used For Greeting, Caressing, Threatening and Throwing Dust Over Their Body

The elephant’s trunk is a combination of their nose and upper lip and is able to touch, grasp and smell. In addition to sucking up water to squirt in their mouths and picking up food, elephants’ trunks are used for greeting, caressing, threatening and throwing dust over their bodies.

On September 26, Elephant Awareness Day, Guests Can Test Their Skills at Eating Like an Elephant Using a Replica of an Elephant Trunk

Guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom on September 26, Elephant Awareness Day, will learn lots of fun facts about elephants—and can even test their skills at eating like an elephant using a replica of an elephant trunk.

On Elephant Awareness Day, Guests Who Stop By Rafiki’s Planet Watch Can Color an Elephant Mask That They Can Take Home

On Elephant Awareness Day, guests who stop by Rafiki’s Planet Watch can:

  • Learn what—and how much!—an elephant eats.
  • Color an elephant mask that they can take home.
  • Learn about the elephants that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, including baby elephant Jabali who just celebrated his first birthday, and talk with members of our elephant care team.
  • Find out about our elephant conservation efforts in Africa, supported through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and cast member conservation programs, including how bee sounds are being used to help keep elephants away from crops.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Manatees (Our Not-So-Little Mermaids) Celebrated at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot

posted on September 5th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


History tells us that ancient sailors – and maybe even Christopher Columbus – mistook manatees for mermaids. Guests visiting The Seas with Nemo & Friends on September 7 will be able to learn about these not-so-little mermaids during an International Manatee Day celebration.

Guests Can Learn About Manatees at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot During International Manatee Day

Special activities are designed to help guests discover the reality behind the myths and how they can help protect manatees.

Did you know?

  • Manatees belong to a group of aquatic, plant-eating mammals called sirenians.
  • Their teeth are constantly being worn down by the abrasive plants they eat, but manatees grow replacement teeth throughout their lifetime.
  • Manatees can only be found in a few places around the world, including Florida, South America, Africa, and Australia.
  • Actions all of us can take to keep waterways clean, such as recycling used fishing line and plastic bottles, can protect these majestic mammals.
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot is a designated rehabilitation site for rescued manatees (and sea turtles too) until they are well enough to be returned to their habitats The Seas participates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other facilities and conservation groups, in the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership.
  • Rescued manatees Lou and Vail make their home at The Seas.

Rescued Manatees Lou and Vail Make Their Home at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot

Upcoming 2012 wildlife conservation events at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (as always, dates subject to change):

  • September 26: Elephant Awareness Day
  • October 31: Bat Day
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Why Don’t Vultures Get Stomach Aches? Find Out All About These Often-Misunderstood Birds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on August 29th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


“Learn

Vultures eat the carcasses of dead animals, helping prevent the spread of life-threatening diseases such as rabies and anthrax among animals and humans. So why don’t they get a stomach ache? Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (on September 1) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom (on September 5) will find out the answer to this and many other questions about these often-misunderstood birds during International Vulture Awareness Day celebrations.

“Learn

Okay, so why don’t they get a stomach ache, or worse? Vultures are equipped with a digestive system that contains special acids that will dissolve many kinds of usually deadly bacteria. These acids also help them to digest the decaying meat and bones that make up their diet.

As strong as vultures’ stomachs are, they face challenges ranging from loss of habitat and food sources, to direct and indirect poisoning of food carcasses, to electrocution on power lines.

“Learn

Guests can learn about vultures and conservation efforts to help these birds:

  • At an activity area at the Tree of Life
  • By participating in a variety of activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch
  • At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

“Learn

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can try on a replica of vulture wings, create an arts-and-crafts vulture or vulture mask, learn about vulture digestion and take part in a vulture meet-and-greet, among other activities. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, activities include viewing vulture feedings, vulture mask coloring and the opportunity to examine vulture biofacts.

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.

International Vulture Awareness Day originated in South Africa in 2006 to raise awareness of the plight of vultures in that region. The event has expanded around the world, focusing on issues and conservation programs that are affecting these birds. Awareness and knowledge are the first steps in appreciating vultures, which are helping keep the earth cleaner and disease free. People also can support conservation efforts that are helping vultures. To learn more about Disney’s conservation efforts, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

Upcoming 2012 wildlife conservation events at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (as always, dates subject to change):

  • September 26: Elephant Awareness Day
  • October 31: Bat Day

And at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, celebrate International Manatee Day on September 7.

Read more of our Wildlife Wednesday posts below:

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Walt’s Legacy of Protecting the Environment is Part of the Story at New Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

posted on August 15th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


“Disney's

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, including the just opened Lion King wing, taps into Disney’s rich legacy of beloved characters and stories. It also taps into another part of the Disney legacy; a commitment to conservation and the environment that began with our company’s founder, Walt Disney, and is a key focus of our present and future.
“Disney's

A few of the environmental enhancements at the new resort include:

“Disney's

  • Reusable plates and utensils in the Landscape of Flavors food court.
  • Recycle bins in key locations in the resort’s public areas (the most for any resort on property) and, of course, recycle bins in every guest room.
  • Environmental information integrated into cast members’ overall training and guidelines.

“Disney's

Walt Disney World Resort maintains the state of Florida’s Green Lodging designation for all of its resort hotels. Disney’s BoardWalk Inn was among the first resorts in Florida to receive the designation when the program launched in 2004. As our newest resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will be undergoing the process required to achieve this designation after the final wing of the resort, themed after “The Little Mermaid,” opens in September. To achieve the Green Lodging designation, resorts must focus on five categories: water conservation, education and awareness, waste reduction, energy conservation and indoor air quality.

To find out more about Disney’s environmental and conservation efforts, visit www.disney.com/environment.

For more information on Disney conservation, check out the Wildlife Wednesdays series:

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Wildlife Wednesdays: What Do a 400-Pound Gorilla and a One-Pound Cotton-Top Tamarin Have in Common? Find out at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on July 25th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests can find out the answer to this question and many more during special celebrations taking place in August. So you are not kept in suspense, here’s the answer: They’re both primates — a diverse group of animals that includes apes, monkeys and lemurs.

“Disney's

Disney's Animal Kingdom Celebrates Primates, Featuring the Siamang Disney's Animal Kingdom Celebrates Primates, Featuring the White-Cheeked Gibbon Disney's Animal Kingdom Celebrates Primates, Featuring the Emperor Tamarin

On August 1, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate the world’s primates, including those species — like gorillas, white-cheeked gibbons, siamangs, ring-tailed lemurs, and cotton-top and emperor tamarins — that make their home at the park. Guests will be able to participate in a variety of activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and near primate habitats throughout the rest of the park, and learn what primates eat, what tools certain primates use, and what all of us can do to help conserve primates. There will even be face painters and caricature artists with designs featuring primates created just for the celebration. Guests can also find out how Disney is helping save some special primates — orphan gorillas in Africa — at GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center) with help from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund www.disney.com/conservation.

“Disney's

After August 1, for the remainder of the month, the celebration focuses on the cotton-top tamarin. This tiny, critically endangered primate is found only in Colombia and South America, where August 15 has been proclaimed a national holiday — the Day of the Cotton-Top Tamarin. Guests can find out cotton-top tamarins’ favorite foods, how scientists locate them in the forest, and even how to do the cotton-top tamarin dance. Guests also can learn about the conservation efforts of Proyecto Titi, an organization founded by our own Anne Savage, Ph.D., and dedicated to saving the cotton-top tamarin.

Just last month, the United Women Artisans’ Association of Los Limites, who make eco-mochilas (colorful tote bags made from plastic bags, which reduce the amount of plastic litter in the forests and villages) as part of Proyecto Titi, were selected from more than 800 applicants to receive the Equator Prize, which recognizes outstanding contributions to sustainable development for people, nature and communities, during the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The artisan group was one of 25 honorees selected, and the group also was given one of 10 thematic special recognition awards. Anne Savage said, after attending the award celebration, “After years of working on Proyecto Titi, this really was one of the times where you can see how hard work by local communities really can change the world.”

Upcoming 2012 wildlife conservation events at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (as always, dates subject to change):

  • September 5: International Vulture Awareness Day
  • September 26: Elephant Awareness Day
  • October 31: Bat Day

And at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, celebrate International Manatee Day on September 7.

For more updates from the Wildlife Wednesdays series, see the posts below:

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Named Corporate Conservationist of the Year

posted on June 20th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


This past weekend, I was proud and humbled to accept on behalf of the Disney company — and you, our guests — the Corporate Conservationist of the Year award, which was presented to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) by the Florida Wildlife Federation during its 75th anniversary celebration.
“Claire

The Federation selected DWCF for the award “because of the very generous grants and remarkable efforts provided worldwide and in Florida by the fund for conservation projects, endangered species protection and for excellent research in the field of conservation,” said Manley K. Fuller, Florida Wildlife Federation president.

DWCF has provided nearly $4 million to support 257 programs and 59 organizations in Florida (part of the nearly $20 million contributed worldwide). Here are a few examples of Florida projects the DWCF has helped support.

“Dolphins “Right “Coral

Protecting ocean wildlife and habitats:

  • Reducing human impacts on dolphins (Chicago Zoological Society) – The longest-running study of a dolphin population to understand the extent and effects of human impacts on wild dolphins and how to educate people to reduce these impacts.
  • Effects of Gulf of Mexico oil spill on dolphins (Morris Animal Foundation/Mote Marine Lab) – Study to understand the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on dolphins.
  • Northern right whale monitoring (Marine Resources Council) – Volunteer training and outreach programs to maintain a network of whale-watching citizens who report North Atlantic right whale sightings. The reports are relayed to ships traveling in the whale-calving grounds to help prevent collisions. The program also is gathering long-term data on the habitat, behavior and reproduction of these rare whales, which number fewer than 400.
  • Coral restoration (Coral Restoration Foundation) – Expanding coral reef nurseries in the Florida Keys to restore degraded Elkhorn and Staghorn coral reefs and to develop materials and methods that will enable this work to be replicated across ocean coral ecosystems.
“Red-Cockaded “Spoonbill

Protecting Florida birds and habitats:

  • Establishment of a new red-cockaded woodpecker population (The Nature Conservancy) — Increasing the population of the eight woodpecker family groups at The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve.
  • Restoring the Everglades ecosystems (Audubon of Florida) — Restoring the Everglades ecosystems affected by wetland drainage, development and flood control.

Did you know? The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is funded by Disney, which has committed to more than match guest contributions and covers all administrative costs. Guests help to support the fund in a variety of ways, from adding a dollar or more to their purchases of food and gifts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and select resorts (including the brand new Disney’s Art of Animation Resort); to participating in special animal experiences on Disney Cruise Line and at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, The Seas with Nemo & Friends in Epcot, and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai’i; to purchasing reusable shopping bags and other items and at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

Check out these other posts from the Wildlife Wednesdays series:

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Get a Closer Look at the Worlds of Pollinators and our Oceans on Special Days at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends

posted on May 30th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Next week, guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot can get a closer look at two amazing worlds—the world of pollinators and the world beneath the sea—during special celebrations.

The World of Pollinators on Special Days at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Butterflies, bees and other pollinators are the focus during the Pollinator Day celebration on June 6 at Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Do you like chocolate? Well, chocolate and about 1,000 other plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices and medicines depend on pollinators to grow. Activities on Pollinator Day include the opportunity to see two different types of bees and to learn how to create a pollinator garden.

The World of our Oceans on Special Days at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot

Every day guests marvel at the wonders of the oceans when they visit The Seas with Nemo & Friends. During the World Oceans Day celebration on June 8, there will be even more to see and do – discover the adaptations sharks use to survive; learn the important role marine mammals, like manatees and dolphins; play in the ocean ecosystem; find out what Disney researchers are doing to protect coral reefs; and travel along with a sea turtle hatchling on its journey from its nest to the ocean.

On land and in the sea, nature’s magic abounds.

Upcoming 2012 wildlife conservation events at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (as always, dates subject to change):

  • August 1: Celebrating Primates
  • August 1-31: Cotton-Top Tamarin Month
  • September 5: International Vulture Awareness Day
  • September 26: Elephant Awareness Day
  • October 31: Bat Day

And at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, celebrate International Manatee Day on September 7.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Is a Tortoise a Turtle? Find Out This and More at The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 16th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Get Up Close and Personal with Turtles at The Seas with Nemo & Friends

So you don’t to have to wait until your next visit, yes, a tortoise is a turtle, but a turtle is not necessarily a tortoise (see fun fact below). You can find out all kinds of fascinating information and participate in a variety of activities for the whole family May 23 when Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate World Turtle Day.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests may see a turtle getting a veterinary exam, find out if they are smarter than a turtle, and get an up-close look at some of the turtles and tortoises that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and learn about how we care for them.

Veterinarians Examine a Turtle at Disney's Animal Kingdom

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends, sea turtles are the focus (naturally!). Guests can watch a sea turtle swimming gracefully by in the 5.7 million gallon saltwater main aquarium, learn about the conditions needed for sea turtles to nest successfully (did you know that female sea turtles return to the same beaches where they were hatched to lay their eggs?), and take part in an activity that follows a sea turtle hatchling on its journey to the sea, discovering how all of us can help to remove the obstacles that stand in its way.

I am very proud that 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, our animal care team has nursed more than 300 endangered sea turtles back to health and released them back to the wild. And since its inception, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has directed more than $1.1 million to sea turtle conservation efforts through more than 27 nonprofit organizations worldwide.

All of us can help turtles and tortoises by taking action to reduce, reuse and recycle, by making sure that we dispose of trash properly, and by observing turtles and other wildlife from a safe distance, taking care not to disturb them or their habitats.

Fun Fact: The word “turtle” refers to all species of turtle, including freshwater and sea turtles, box turtles and tortoises. Tortoises are turtles that live on land.

Upcoming 2012 wildlife conservation events at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (as always, dates subject to change):

  • June 6: Pollinator Day
  • August: Cotton-Top Tamarin Month
  • Sept. 5: International Vulture Awareness Day
  • Sept. 26: Elephant Awareness Day
  • Oct. 31: Bat Day

And at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8.



For more from the “Wildlife Wednesdays” series, see the posts below:

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New Exhibit a Highlight of International Migratory Bird Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 9th, 2012 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Just in time for this year’s International Migratory Bird Day celebration, May 12 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a new, permanent exhibit that tells an amazing story about a migratory bird – the endangered whooping crane – has been installed at Conservation Station. During the event, guests will have the chance to see the new exhibit, which includes an ultralight aircraft used to lead whooping cranes on their migration and talk with representatives from Operation Migration, which has played a leading role in this bird’s conservation.

New Permanent Exhibit Tells Story About a Migratory Bird at Conservation Station at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Each year, a new group of hand-reared whooping cranes makes its first migration south from Wisconsin to Florida. The rare birds are led by ultralight aircraft flown by the pilots of the Operation Migration team. Threats such as habitat loss and unregulated hunting brought the whooping crane population to an alarming low of only 15 birds in the early 1940s. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has supported this program since its inception in 2000 to help grow the migratory population of these cranes and to develop and refine this innovative model, which might help other species.

Each Year, A New Group of Hand-reared Whooping Cranes Makes its First Migration South from Wisconsin to Florida

Scott Tidmus, one of our zoological managers, explains how our animal care team supports Operation Migration and the whooping cranes: “Disney’s Animal Kingdom animal keepers assist with the hand-rearing of chicks, and team members monitor the cranes during their initial arrival in Florida. Our veterinary team performs health exams on the chicks before they are released to start their acclimation to the wild following their migration.”

Other highlights of our International Migratory Bird Day celebration, where guests can be “honorary birds” for the day:

  • Main Entrance (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.): Guests receive their bird band and a bookmark with the locations of the other “banding” sta­tions in the park
  • Oasis (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.) What is your feather color?: Guests can have their plumage (clothing) recorded.
  • Tree of Life (9 a.m. – 3 p.m.) What is your leg length?: Guests will have their leg length measured and recorded.
  • Asia (9 a.m. – 3 p.m.) What is your wing span?: Guests will have their arm length measured and recorded.
  • Africa (9 a.m. – 3 p.m.) What is your height?: Chil­dren will have their height measured and recorded.
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) Operation Migration exhibit and a variety of other special activities

Upcoming 2012 wildlife conservation events at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (as always, dates subject to change):

  • May 23: World Turtle Day
  • June 6: Pollinator Day
  • August: Cotton-Top Tamarin Month
  • Sept. 5: International Vulture Awareness Day
  • Sept. 26: Elephant Awareness Day
  • Oct. 31: Bat Day
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