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Wildlife Wednesdays: Colorful Macaws Take Flight in New Experience Coming This Summer to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 7th, 2014 by Dr. Mark Penning, Director of Animal Operations, Disney Parks


I am thrilled to share first with Disney Parks Blog fans news about a new animal experience coming soon to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Stars of the show are flocks of macaws in a kaleidoscope of colors flying over and around the heart of the park — Discovery Island. Brought to you by the fantastic team that inspires and delights guests at our Flights of Wonder show in collaboration with Disney Creative Entertainment, “Winged Encounters — The Kingdom Takes Flight,” will debut this summer.

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The macaws, with wingspans up to 60 inches, are now making short flights in the early morning hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in preparation for the debut of the new experience, which features six types of macaw: hyacinth, green-winged, blue and gold, scarlet, blue-throated and military.

In addition to seeing these colorful birds in flight, during up-close encounters, avian experts will share conservation stories about the macaws, the majority of which are endangered in their native Central and South America.

Be sure to watch Disney Parks Blog for more information about this new experience in the coming weeks.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Animal Care Team Creates Hog Heaven at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

posted on September 26th, 2012 by Dr. Mark Penning, Director of Animal Operations, Disney Parks


For my first Disney Parks Blog post, I am very pleased to share with you an example of how our animal care team is always striving to enhance both the guest and the animal experience at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Animal Care Team Creates Hog Heaven at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge animal care team noticed that the red river hogs were using some natural mud wallows to stay cool in areas where the guests could not see them. They recognized that this is a natural behavior the guests would love to see, and went about filling in those natural wallows while creating a “deluxe version” where guests could get a good view. Then the animal care team figured out how to encourage the hogs to go to the new wallow, and reinforced that behavior. It wasn’t long before being in the new wallow became a highly desirable activity for the hogs. Now we have very happy hogs, happy animal keepers, happy savanna guides interpreting the behavior—and a wonderful natural behavior for guests to enjoy.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Animal Care Team Creates Hog Heaven at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Did you know?

  • The savannas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge present an exceptional opportunity for guests to see African wildlife in a large, mixed-species habitat right outside the guests’ hotel rooms throughout the day and into the evening.
  • Although the selection of animals on the savanna often changes, in addition to the red river hogs, guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge may see giraffe, Ankole cattle, zebra, okapi, several species of antelope, Abyssinian ground hornbills and ostriches, among many others.
  • The red river hog is a wild member of the pig family that lives in western and central Africa. In the wild, red river hogs eat grasses, berries, roots, insects, small animals and carrion.
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