Happy Valentine’s Day from Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment! As you prepare for this weekend, please enjoy our animal-inspired Valentine’s Day cards featuring animals at Walt Disney World Resort. Haven’t sent all your valentines yet? Share these cards with your friends and family to show them you’re thinking of them.
posted on February 10th, 2016 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
posted on June 24th, 2015 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Happy 21st Anniversary to “The Lion King”!
You can check out our lions on the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Visit our meerkats on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and warthogs on the Kilimanjaro Safaris both at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
See if you can spot the mandrills on the savanna on the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Try to catch a peek at these majestic birds during the opening sequence of the film and at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Next time you watch “The Lion King,” look out for all these animals in the “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” song sequence. You can see them here on the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
posted on April 29th, 2015 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
World Veterinary Day promotes animal health, animal welfare and public health globally. Since its initiation in 2000, this day has been recognized on the last Saturday of April and provides a great opportunity to raise awareness about the amazing work veterinarians around the world do to protect and care for animals and people. At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we share these same goals, as our veterinary teams care for our diverse animal population.
This year, World Veterinary Day fell on April 25.
If you ask me, I believe we have the most amazing animal-care team on the planet, but I may be biased. The most incredible thing about our vets and the team as a whole is that we make the extraordinary seem routine every day. We take care of every animal – from turtles and tigers to red river hogs and birds.
You can see our world-class vets in action at Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You can watch live animal medical procedures and talk to the vets and animal keepers after the live procedures as well. Most procedures are scheduled before noon, so be sure to take the Wildlife Express Train to Conservation Station for this unique experience.
Did you know…?
- Our veterinary staff cares for animals in many locations including: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot, Tri-Circle D Ranch at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, and Castaway Cay.
- 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 veterinary 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.
posted on October 29th, 2014 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
World Rhino Day is officially recognized each year on September 22, and provides a great opportunity to share information and raise awareness about the exponential rise in rhinoceros poaching in the wild. While some are aware of the declining numbers of rhinos in the wild, many don’t have the opportunity to take the next step to help reverse the decline. Chad Harmon, a member of the team who works with animals in the Ituri Forest on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, took matters into his own hands. He and his wife started a non-profit organization called The Horns and Heroes Project – an organization that combines the conservation of rhinos around the world with the passion and creativity of the art community.
The organization’s first event, in 2012, invited 50 artists from around the Orlando, Fla. area to decorate cast moldings of rhino horns. These decorated horns were then displayed at an auction event and 100 percent of the $6,000 proceeds were sent to the International Rhino Foundation. The ‘Heroes’ portion of the organization’s title comes in as the money donated supports the front line park rangers patrolling on the ground, risking their lives against armed poachers to keep rhinos safe in the wild.
So, that covers rhinos and art auctions, but where does Disney Imagineer, Joe Rohde, fit in?
This year over 70 artists decorated rhino busts that were auctioned off. Joe Rohde learned about the event and showed support by creating his own piece of artwork that was showcased along with members of the Orlando community and Disney’s Animal Programs. A Zoological Manager on the elephant team, Steve Lefave, created the piece of art that produced the highest bid – over $900! The piece, titled “Abbey Normal,” was created using several recycled pieces and depicts a “Frankenstein”-like rhino. When asked about his inspiration for the piece, Lefave said, “If we don’t protect the rhino, we will have to recreate it by some other means.” Lefave also spoke very highly of the organization with admiration that is “through the roof” because he knows all the work to save this species comes from the heart.
Inspired by the guiding principles of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Harmon strives to inspire calls to action by exposing audiences to the subject matter and then provide a way to get involved. Harmon’s intention is to invite art lovers to come in the door, but then leave an art lover who is also a conservationist. The most recent event raised over $23,000 with over 400 people in attendance!
Organizations like this are just one way that Disney cast members are making a difference around the world. Keep an eye out for upcoming events in your area and opportunities to get involved in other conservation programs, organizations and initiatives!
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, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
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.
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.
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, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
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.
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.
posted on February 6th, 2013 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
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.
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.
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”:
- Wildlife Wednesdays: Local Girl Scouts Join Cast Members for Third Annual Walt Disney World Holiday Bird Count – Over 16,000 Birds Counted
- Wildlife Wednesdays: New Antelope Species, the Springbok, on Kilimanjaro Safaris Savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort
- Wildlife Wednesdays: From Elephants to Educators — Disney Helping African Wildlife by Helping African Communities
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, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
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.
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.
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.
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, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
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.
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 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 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!