Muppet*Vision 3D at Disney California Adventure Park

Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on November 19th, 2014 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


Science fans might recognize the quote in the title from the theme song of television show Bill Nye, the Science Guy. The popular educational show showcased science topics through interactive, applied science projects. Bill Nye, the Science Guy was for TV what the newly renovated Science Center is for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Like the show, applied science is exactly what Guests will have the opportunity to see and learn about as one of the many subjects showcased in the area.

You might be thinking, isn’t this WILDLIFE Wednesday? What does applied science have to do with wildlife?… Much more than you think!

Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The Science Center, previously known as the Wildlife Tracking Center, is home to the Science Operations team – a team of scientists and animal care professionals who partner with various teams within Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, to provide outstanding care for the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The new name reflects this as a location that is fun, interactive and inspiring, highlighting science using applied means, which is precisely what the Science Operations team is all about. Guests have the opportunity to view behavioral husbandry cast members coordinating animal training and enrichment programs, animal behavior scientists analyzing behavioral data, endocrinologists monitoring pregnancies and hormone cycles of animals within the park, and/or the population biologist working on animal management plans that help us determine which animals should be put together for breeding.

Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wildlife Wednesday: ‘Science rules!’ in the Newly Renovated and Renamed Science Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

You might be able to find Bill Nye, the Science Guy in a science classroom near you, but the science experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be found working in their lab at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. We hope to see you soon!

Did you know that…?

  • Members of the Science Operations team have published dozens of scientific articles advancing the field of zoo animal care.
  • Since Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, endocrinologists in the Science Center have conducted over 100,000 hormone tests!
  • The behavioral husbandry cast members on the Science Operations team coordinate the training of animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as tiny as a mouse to as tall as a giraffe.
  • Not only are members of the Science Operations team working to take care of the animals here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but they also are working to promote the conservation of species in their natural habitats, including gorillas, Micronesian kingfishers, and coral reefs.
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Wildlife Wednesday: Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

posted on July 9th, 2014 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


It’s no secret that a highlight of visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the opportunity to see plenty of beautiful animals! Over the years, a commonly shared “tip” has been to get to the park early because animals are more likely to be seen in the morning. Our Science Operations Team set out to test that tip by recording animal visibility throughout the day.

Hypothesis (Myth): Animals are more likely to be seen in the morning.

Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals

The researchers separated the park into five areas to include Kilimanjaro Safaris Ride, Discovery Island/Tree of Life, Oasis Gardens, Pangani Forest Trail, and Maharajah’s Jungle Trek. In these areas, they collect visibility data at several different times of the day on almost all of the animals including Giant Anteater, White Stork, Giraffe, Ostrich, Tiger, Elephant and Gorilla. The research team has been monitoring animal visibility in this fashion since the park opened in 1998 and they now have an amazing archive of information on how the animal viewing experience in the park has changed over the years.

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For this analysis, the team’s observational data were recorded and used to calculate an “average visibility” for each species at each time of day. These statistics were then compared to determine if there was in fact an increased chance of animal visibility at a certain time during the day. Analyses of data from the past several years all reveal the same finding…

Conclusion (and myth busted): Time of day does not significantly change the probability of spotting animals.

Translation — You can sleep in and still have a great, animal-filled day!

**On your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to pick up an Animal Guide to help you discover the animals in each area of the Park. You can even become a Wilderness Explorer by completing challenges and earning adventure badges throughout your day!

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