Japan Pavilion at Epcot

Wildlife Wednesdays: Excellent Care Includes a Visit to the Veterinary Hospital for New Gorilla at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on October 9th, 2013 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Animal Health Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


Excellence in animal care is a top priority at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and our Animal Health team provides a wide array of veterinary services to care for the animals that make their home here. These include regular wellness exams, surgical procedures, oversight of pregnancies and births, and emergency medicine.

Included among the wellness exams is what we refer to as a quarantine exam. When an animal comes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, that animal spends time in a special area known as quarantine to help ensure that they won’t pass along any diseases when they join the rest of the animals in their group. A quarantine exam by our veterinarians is part of this process.

Azizi, A New Female Gorilla Who Recently Joined the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Family

A few months ago, a new female gorilla, Azizi, joined the Disney’s Animal Kingdom family. Here’s a video of Azizi’s quarantine exam.

Now, guests can see Azizi with the rest of our gorilla family group on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Our primate team shared that Azizi spends lots of time playing with young gorilla Lilly, who is now three years old, and doing great.

Did you know?

  • The state-of-the-art veterinary facilities at Disney’s Animal Kingdom include an X-ray room, ultrasound equipment, surgical suites and full-service laboratories. Veterinarians and technicians use these tools to focus on preventative health and creating new methods to diagnose and treat animals, ranging in size from a two-gram poison dart frog to a 13,000-pound African elephant.
  • During a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can 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 (DWCF). The DWCF has given more than $2 million to support conservation projects that protect primates.
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Update: Wildlife Wednesdays: Injured Whooping Crane that Received Care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Back in the Wild

posted on February 13th, 2013 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Animal Health Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


Great news! The injured wild whooping crane that was cared for at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was released back into the wild this past weekend. Disney’s Animal Programs zoological manager Scott Tidmus (he is pictured holding the crane in the veterinary hospital photo) accompanied the bird on its trip from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to Tennessee, where it was released in the company of other wild whooping cranes.
 Injured Whooping Crane Receives Care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, no other whooping crane from this population has ever been captured, transported to a medical facility, treated, and successfully re-released back into the wild over the 12 years of a special program aimed at establishing an eastern migrating population of whooping cranes.

For photos and video, visit this page.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Injured Whooping Crane Receives Care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on February 6th, 2013 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Animal Health Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


In addition to caring for the animals that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, the Disney’s Animal Programs animal operations and animal health teams also often step in to care for animals in the wild. Such an occasion arose last week, when we were asked to care for a wild whooping crane found in South Florida with a severe injury to one of her toes.
Injured Whooping Crane Receives Care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

We received word from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the International Crane Foundation (ICF) that the injured whooping crane had been observed by residents in the area. The whooping crane is part of a reintroduction project with which our team has significant experience through cooperation with groups such as the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) and Operation Migration, conservation groups that are helping protect these animals. Members of our animal operations team traveled to South Florida to bring the bird to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to receive care. Caring for — and, in this case, capturing — a wild whooping crane calls for special preparations, including wearing white costumes and head coverings until the bird’s sight can be blocked by using a cloth eye covering. The goal is for the birds not to get imprinted on humans.

Upon arrival at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the whooping crane received a full medical examination, and, although the bird’s injury did require amputation of the affected toe, the bird is adjusting well, and we hope that she will soon be released back into the wild.
Operation Migration Uses Ultralight Aircraft to Guide Hand-Reared Whooping Cranes on Their First Migration

Did you know?

  • Each year, a new group of hand-reared whooping cranes makes its first migration south from Wisconsin to Florida through Operation Migration. 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 Operation Migration 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.

  • The International Crane Foundation helps protect and conserve crane species around the world. The crane being treated in the veterinary hospital at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was raised by the ICF for release into the wild in 2012. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has supported the ICF and many initiatives around the globe to help cranes.

  • Disney’s Animal Programs animal keepers assist with the hand-rearing of whooping crane chicks, and team members monitor the cranes during their initial arrival in Florida. The veterinary team performs health exams on the chicks before they are released to start their acclimation to the wild following their migration.

  • Inside Conservation Station at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can see our Operation Migration exhibit, which includes an ultralight aircraft used to lead the whooping cranes on their migration, and find out more about this amazing story.

 
Read on for more “Wildlife Wednesdays”:

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Wildlife Wednesdays: How Do You Get a Giraffe Into the Veterinary Hospital at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

posted on February 29th, 2012 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Animal Health Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


Getting a Giraffe to the Vet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Many of you are aware that a visit to Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom provides an opportunity to get a “behind the scenes” look at our animal care program. One of the highlights of that area is the on-show veterinary hospital window. The veterinary hospital window allows a direct view into our on-show treatment room, radiology (X-ray) room and clinical laboratory. On any given day (usually between the hours of 10 a.m. and noon), veterinarians may be performing routine wellness exams, surgery, or other medical procedures on a variety of animals for all of our guests to see. Every afternoon, members of the hospital team are available outside the window for personal interactions with guests.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Veterinary Hospital Windows Allow a Direct View into On-show Treatment Rooms

One of the most common guest questions we get at the hospital window is, “How do you get a giraffe into the hospital?” The guest might be joking as they watch us work in a treatment room that could never hold a giraffe, but there is a real question there… how do you bring a giraffe to the hospital? The answer is simple: we don’t, we bring the hospital to the giraffe. No matter the size of the animal, we must be able to provide excellence in animal health care to our animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and The Seas with Nemo & Friends.

The Mobile Veterinary Truck at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Advanced portable medical equipment and good old-fashioned hard work allows us to pack up a huge variety of equipment and travel to our backstage animal barns for wellness exams and diagnostic medical procedures. Our mobile veterinary truck and hospital van may carry an anesthesia machine, oxygen tanks, a portable X-ray unit, an ultrasound machine, a surgical laser, dart gun equipment, anesthetic and emergency drugs, monitoring equipment, bandage material, dental tools, surgical supplies, and much, much more. We literally bring the hospital to the patient. Those patients may include giraffes, elephants, rhinos, hippos, manatees, dolphins, and any other large animal not quite suited for the hospital.

So, the next time you visit Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to stop by the on-show veterinary hospital window. As you watch us work on our patients in the hospital or talk with our hospital team, remember that behind the scenes we might be packing up the hospital for another “house call” to a giraffe.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Expert Nutrition Team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps Animals to Stick to Their Diet

posted on January 11th, 2012 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Animal Health Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


In last week’s Wildlife Wednesdays post, you heard from Matt Hohne that exercise plays an important role in keeping the animals in our care physically and mentally fit. Another important ingredient in the recipe is eating right — something that’s top of mind for many of us humans as we try to get the new year off to a good start.

“The

For my first Disney Parks Blog post, I’d like to tell you a little bit about our Animal Nutrition Center. As Animal Health Director for Disney’s Animal Programs, I have the privilege of leading our Animal Nutrition Center team as well as our veterinary team.

Located backstage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Animal Nutrition Center creates specialized diets for more than 3,000 mammals, birds, reptiles and fishes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends. This adds up to more than four-and-half tons of food per day, not counting the natural vegetation that is eaten by some of our animals.

“The

The animals in our care include insect eaters (insectivores), plant eaters (herbivores), meat eaters (carnivores) and those that eat both (omnivores). As a result, the nutrition center team prepares over 1,000 different diets daily. From the tiny newly hatched chicks that need to be hand raised to elephants weighing many thousands of pounds, each animal receives a diet specially formulated by our expert team to ensure optimal nutrition. And many food items are used as enrichment, spread throughout the animals’ habitats to encourage them to explore and exhibit natural behaviors.

“The

The fruits and vegetables used at our nutrition center are the same high-quality foods served to guests in Disney restaurants. When guests visit the nutrition center on the Backstage Safari tour, they always comment on how fresh and tasty the apples, carrots, melons, corn and other fruits and vegetables look. Some guests might be tempted to stop for a snack. Of course, when it comes to the mealworms and crickets that are part of some of our animals’ diets, our guests happily agree that the food should go to the animals as intended.

On your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, plan to visit the Animal Nutrition Center on the Backstage Safari tour or visit with an Animal Nutrition Center cast member at our window in Conservation Station. Here’s to good eating!

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