Disney Parks Blog has been following the story of GRACE since the beginning. Of course, our wish, and the wish of the local Congolese people who work at GRACE, is that there would be no baby gorillas orphaned through poaching in need of human care. Until then, we are fortunate to have GRACE, a facility where orphaned gorillas can be rehabilitated for eventual reintroduction to the wild. GRACE currently is home to 12 orphaned gorillas, with 3 more arriving soon.
We hope you enjoy our new video about GRACE.
Want even more inspiration? Click here to see a second video featuring the gorillas at GRACE.
When guests visit our gorillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, they see them in beautiful habitats – complete with trees, shrubs and waterfalls – on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Of course in the wild, appropriate habitat is critical to the survival of gorillas and other wildlife.
The Tayna and Kisimba-Ikobo Community Reserves in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are located in one of the world’s most important tropical forest regions, an area rich in biodiversity that supports many endangered species, including gorillas. The third in a series of videos on our conservation efforts in the DRC focuses on how The Walt Disney Company, in partnership with Conservation International and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, is reaching out to help the reserves as part of its global effort to protect threatened forests.
It’s impossible to help wildlife – like endangered gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo – without the support of the people in nearby communities. GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center), the first-ever rehabilitation facility in Africa for rescued orphan eastern gorillas, is located near the Congolese village of Kasugho. The people of Kasugho’s commitment to wildlife and habitat conservation made it a natural choice for the center, and the local community is flourishing, along with GRACE’s gorillas.
The second in a series of three videos on our conservation efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo focuses on this community of amazing people.
Last summer, it was my pleasure to share an update on the first-ever rehabilitation facility in Africa for rescued orphan eastern gorillas, called GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center). To build GRACE, Disney’s Animal Programs teamed up with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. GRACE’s mission: to rescue, rehabilitate and reintroduce orphaned gorillas back into their native habitat.
Since then, much has happened, including the creation of three wonderful videos. Here’s the first video, which focuses on the gorillas themselves.
You can’t help wildlife without the support of the people in nearby communities – the second video, which will be posted on May 11, focuses on the people of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo who make their home near GRACE. Also critical to saving endangered species like gorillas is saving habitat, and the third video (to be posted May 18) features our company’s efforts to protect threatened forests.
Each year, the gorillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom help thousands of guests to connect with wildlife. We’re very proud also to be able to help save gorillas in the wild.
Hi everyone…as I write this in my office not far from our gorilla habitat at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, two of my Disney’s Animal Programs colleagues, animal care experts Joe Christman and Sam Berner, are in the Democratic Republic of Congo helping to build the first-ever rehabilitation facility in Africa for rescued orphan eastern gorillas. That’s what makes working at Disney’s Animal Kingdom so wonderful. Every day we get to share with park Guests what they can do to help gorillas, but we also are helping gorillas in their native habitat – and the people who live in communities nearby.
Construction on GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center), which was initiated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International with advice on design and systems provided by team members from Disney’s Animal Programs and the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), is still under way. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is providing funding toward initial operating expenses for the facility. Even as construction continues, however, the first four orphaned eastern gorillas rescued from poachers in Rwanda and Congo already have arrived. In the photo, courtesy of Jessica Ellis, the youngest orphan, Ndjingala, settles in on her first day at GRACE. While efforts to protect the gorillas, an endangered species, and their natural habitat continue to increase in east Africa, the number of orphaned gorillas also has increased in recent years. In the past, most illegally trafficked gorillas died before they could receive proper care.
The GRACE center is near the Tayna Nature Reserve so the orphan gorillas will have a place to grow and learn to be gorillas, experience the forest and develop the social and survival skills they will need when they are released into the wild. They will live at GRACE until they are adolescents, a time when wild gorillas start moving between social groups.
The construction of GRACE also is bringing jobs into the area. The local people are being employed for construction, maintenance of the facility, care takers for the gorillas and ecoguards for the forest, among other employment opportunities. I spent several weeks at GRACE last fall to help with the planning and will be returning in July, to help with the arrival of the next 6 orphan gorillas. Being there is very humbling while at the same time such an honor – to be part of the lives of the people there and help them in their desire to conserve wildlife and wild places – their natural heritage. It is amazing the things the people in the area will do for conservation–they live at the poverty level yet will put their life on the line for the gorillas. I am very proud that Disney’s Animal Programs and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund can help.