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Celebrating the Holidays with Harborside Christmas at Tokyo DisneySea

Wildlife Wednesday: 9 Intriguing Animals You Don’t Want to Miss at Walt Disney World Resort – No FastPass Required!

posted on December 17th, 2014 by Katie Leighty, Ph.D., Science Operations Manager


In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to rush through the day and miss the beauty all around you. In my role, I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of animals and I wanted to share just a few hidden gems. You might have to slow down a bit to find them, but I promise they will be worth a look on your next trip to Walt Disney World Resort. In no particular order:

1. & 2. Red kangaroos & Longnose Gar – Discovery Island Trails & Oasis, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Did you know animals could be found on your way into Disney’s Animal Kingdom? As you enter the park, adventure awaits around every corner, if you take the time to look for it. The longnose gar can be found on the path that crosses through the center of the Oasis just after you enter the park. The red kangaroos can be seen from vantage points at the front of the Tree of Life.

See the Red Kangaroos on Discovery Island Trails & Oasis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom See the Longnose Gar on Discovery Island Trails & Oasis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

3. & 4. Ruppell’s griffon vulture & Nyala – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is more than a resort. It’s home to more than 200 animals including the Ruppell’s griffon vulture and mesmerizing Nyala. All guests are welcome to enjoy the animals at the resort and if you’re looking for lunch plans, up to 12 guests can Dine with Animal Specialists at Sanaa to learn more about all the animals on the savannah!

Visit Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Visit the Nyala at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

5. Argus Pheasant – Maharajah Jungle Trek, Asia, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Maharajah Jungle Trek is home to more than tigers and bats. Don’t bypass the aviary on your next visit or you’ll miss the beautiful Argus pheasant.

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6. Eld’s deer – Maharajah Jungle Trek, Asia, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Eld’s deer are an endangered species that can also be found on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. On your next visit, take a look at their large floppy ears that can turn independently of one another. Those ears allow the Eld’s deer to hear predators from long distances.

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7. Shetland ponies – Tri-Circle-D Ranch, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is home to plenty of outdoor activities from horseback rides to carriage rides, and even pony rides! The Shetland ponies are located just a few feet from Pioneer Hall at the Tri-Circle-D Farm. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the Draft Horse Barn where you can see a variety of breeds and see a display on the many horses in Disney history.

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8. Pineywoods cow – Affection Section, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Affection Section is a hidden gem in itself. Guests have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few different animals and learn from animal experts and keepers. Pineywoods cattle are a critically endangered breed of “heritage” livestock, so pay this gal a visit. If you’re feeling really inspired, you can contribute to conservation efforts around the world through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

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9. Asian brown tortoise – Dinoland, U.S.A., Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Dinoland, U.S.A. is home to many animals (most are extinct). But it’s in a little island between The Boneyard and Restaurantosaurus that you can find the last animals on our list today. One side of the island is home to the American crocodile, but don’t forget to walk around and say hello to the Asian brown tortoises.

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‘World of Color’ Refurbishment Continues Innovative Approach for Conservation in Water Attractions at Disneyland Resort

posted on December 15th, 2014 by Melanie Vogel, External Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


Walt Disney once expressed an “immediate need for education and practice in using our natural resources of soil, forest, water, wildlife and areas of inspirational beauty to the best advantage of all.” Walt’s conservationist heart has led The Walt Disney Company to be a responsible environmental company from the beginning.

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The innovation that fuels Disney to create amazing attractions and experiences, often leads us to pave the way in those behind-the-scenes areas as well. In 2007, when preparing for the launch of “World of Color,” Disneyland Resort drained Paradise Bay in a new way. Partnering with the Orange County Water District, we drained 16 million gallons from the bay into the Orange County Water District’s groundwater replenishment system, instead of storm drains. This ensured the water was purified and stored for future use. When we refilled the bay, the water came from that same system.This innovative, water-saving solution helped earn the resort recognition by being awarded the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in 2009.

Since then, all water-based attractions at the Disneyland Resort follow the same process. “World of Color” will undergo refurbishment beginning January 7, 2015, and will follow the same process that Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage underwent during its recent refurbishment, as did “it’s a small world” Holiday when it reopened in November.

Take a look as Mickey and Goofy help refill Paradise Bay for the first time, back in 2009.

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Special Edition Wildlife Friday: Cold Sea Turtles Cared for By Disney Animal Programs Cast Members

posted on December 12th, 2014 by Blair Witherington, Senior Sea Turtle Biologist


Eight cold-stressed Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were treated in recent weeks by Disney Animal Programs cast members. These were among hundreds of cold-stunned turtles that washed ashore at Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, following a sudden cold spell. The turtles were collected by volunteers from Massachusetts Audubon, and then taken to the New England Aquarium’s Rehabilitation Center in Quincy, Massachusetts, to be stabilized and warmed. When the turtles were ready for travel, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, with support from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF), transported and loaded 193 critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles into a US Coast Guard plane for the trip south!

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Kemp’s ridleys are the rarest sea turtles in the world. The turtles being treated and warmed at Disney each weigh about five pounds and are two to three years old. This is an age at which little Kemp’s ridleys have just moved into coastal waters from the open sea. Most Kemp’s ridleys grow up in the Gulf of Mexico, but some are carried out of the Gulf and up the Atlantic coast by strong currents. These little turtles move into bays and estuaries from Massachusetts to Florida. During warmer months, there are lots of blue crabs and other crustaceans for ridleys to eat in these waters. When winter arrives, the turtles typically swim south to avoid cold water. However, if there is a sudden cold snap, the turtles can become trapped in the bays.

Special Edition Wildlife Friday: Cold Sea Turtles Cared for by Disney Animal Programs Cast Members! Special Edition Wildlife Friday: Cold Sea Turtles Cared for by Disney Animal Programs Cast Members!

Sea turtles enjoy warm water and have a body temperature about the same as the water that surrounds them. When the water temperature dips below 45 degrees, turtles get chilled, lose their ability to swim, and immobile turtles begin to wash ashore.

Normally, ridleys and other sea turtles anticipate cold weather and move south in the fall. But the sandy spit of Cape Cod makes this seasonal migration a special challenge. The cape hooks out into the Atlantic and catches southbound turtles, which collect within Cape Cod Bay. Turtles caught in the bay can find their way back out, except when the onset of frigid weather is rapid, like it was in recent weeks. Under these conditions, turtles in the bay are literally caught out in the cold, and a sea turtle cold-stunning event occurs.

Special Edition Wildlife Friday: Cold Sea Turtles Cared for by Disney Animal Programs Cast Members! Special Edition Wildlife Friday: Cold Sea Turtles Cared for by Disney Animal Programs Cast Members!

Emergencies such as this cold-stunning event often require a fast response. Through the DWCF Rapid Response Fund, we are able to provide emergency support to help animals when they need it most, like we did for these young endangered turtles.

The young Kemp’s ridleys taken in by Disney are now swimming in a backstage location at The Seas with Nemo & Friends to regain their strength. Plans are to release these rare turtles into warm Florida waters as soon as they are well.

Here at Disney, we hope to make an impact that will ensure that future generations will continue to be inspired and delighted by sea turtles. To that end, we have worked to protect endangered sea turtles by providing grants to conservation nonprofits through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. Disney has helped support 115 projects protecting sea turtles and their habitat, with more than $1.8 million in funds since 1998.

Check out this video for behind-the-scenes footage of this rescue effort!

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Wildlife Wednesday: New Disney Animals Fact-Filled Pages Debut Online

posted on December 3rd, 2014 by Dr. Jill Mellen, Education & Science Director


Do you know why rhinos roll around in the mud or what elephants can do to lower their body temperature? Did you know that one shark can have as many as 30,000 teeth during its lifetime?

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There’s a fun new way to find these answers and learn a lot more about some of the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot and what we are doing to protect them in the wild! The Walt Disney World Resort website has introduced a new Disney Animals section that provides a wealth of information about 10 species that are a very special focus for us.

You can go to DisneyAnimals.com to read about African lions, Asian tigers, rhinos, African elephants, Western lowland gorillas, sharks, cotton-top tamarins, sea turtles, coral reef and migratory birds. While it’s not a complete list of all the animals you can see at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or at The Seas with Nemo at Epcot, it represents 10 conservation species Disney is working to protect and provides a valuable connection to nature. We hope this fun animal information inspires you to action! All of the species you read about are endangered, which makes it even more important for us to understand them and to learn more about what we can do to help save the species. You also can read a bit of behind-the-scenes information about how we care for these animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot, as well as some fun facts like the ones that appear at the beginning of this story. Speaking of those, do you know the answers?

  • Rhinos roll in the mud to keep themselves cool, get rid of parasites and prevent sunburns.
  • Elephants can flap their ears to lower their body temperature.
  • Sharks can have as many as 30,000 teeth over their lifetime because their teeth are not rooted in their jaws or gum lines. They can lose teeth when they take a powerful bite out of their prey. But don’t worry! New teeth can grow in just two to eight days.
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Now it’s your turn. Pop quiz! Here are a few questions, and the answers can be found by reading our new Disney Animals pages. When you’re finished, you can check your answers here.

  1. How many lions typically make up a family group, or pride?
  2. Guests can see a critically endangered Sumatran tiger on the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. How many of these tigers exist in the wild?
  3. How can you tell the difference between a black rhino and a white rhino? (HINT: It’s not the color of their skin; both are gray.)
  4. Other than humans, elephants do something that few other animals are known to do. What is it?
  5. Gorillas share 98.3 percent of humans’ DNA. However, gorillas have two things humans do not. What are they?
  6. How many species of sharks are there in the world?
  7. Where do cotton-top tamarins live in the wild?
  8. How do female sea turtles choose where to lay their eggs?
  9. Corals provide a home for what percentage of the oceans’ fish?
  10. Name a significant threat to migratory birds. How many birds are killed each year because of this threat?
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Special Edition Wildlife Wednesday: What Are We Thankful For? You! – Thank You for Contributing to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund!

posted on November 26th, 2014 by Kim Sams, Director, Corporate Citizenship, Conservation Programs, The Walt Disney Company


Recently, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) was thrilled to announce its 2014 grant recipients. With this announcement DWCF surpassed $25 million awarded to nonprofits working to conserve wildlife and connect kids and families with nature. As we enter a season full of thanks and giving for many, we want to take a moment to thank you! Matched by Disney, your contributions to DWCF at Disney Parks and Resorts, Disney Cruise Line and Disney Vacation Club, are directly contributing to protecting animals and their habitats, and helping children all over the world have nature experiences. Not only do we thank you, the grant recipients thank you as well. Here are a few notes from recipients expressing gratitude for the conservation efforts made possible by your contributions.

The Marine Mammal Center: Mahalo!!! This is such wonderful news – especially as we just celebrated the opening and blessing of the new Hawaiian monk seal hospital and were joined by 150 members of the community, government, funders, and volunteers in Kona last week. And as we just sent off the first four young Hawaiian monk seal patients healthy back to the ocean – before our facility was built these four seals would have been left with no hope of survival. It is an exciting time of hope and possibility in the recovery of the Hawaiian monk seal. Thank you so much for your support!

Project: Hawaiian Monk Seal Healthcare Project

The Purple Martin Conservation Association: This is most wonderful news and on behalf of our purple martin conservation team we express our deep thanks for your support of our project. We look forward to working together with Disney to make important progress in the conservation of declining populations of purple martins.

Project: Connecting Songbird Conservation Across Hemispheres

Hawaiian Monk Seals at The Marine Mammal Center Tagged Purple Martin at The Purple Martin Conservation Association

SAVE THE FROGS!: This is amazing news! Thank you so much to you all and to Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for your support of our amphibian conservation programs in West Africa.

Project: Saving Ghana’s Endangered Squeaker Frog

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The Jane Goodall Institute: Thank you so much for this wonderful news. Having Disney’s support of the Jane Goodall Institute and our Mandrill Reintroduction Project is greatly appreciated. Releasing rehabilitated mandrills back into the wild is so important, not only for the individuals themselves, but also for the surrounding ecosystem. They are important contributors to their local biodiversity and their presence has a positive spillover effect on other threatened wildlife. Again, thank you to everyone at Disney for your support.

Project: Release of Wild Born Mandrills

Sea to Shore Alliance: Thank you so much to all of you at DWCF for this fantastic news! We are extremely honored to be funded for the seventh year in a row, and we know our African manatee collaborators, whose projects benefit so greatly from your grants, are very grateful as well. We look forward to sharing more news and photos with you soon.

Project: African Manatee Research and Conservation

Every $1 in guest donations is matched by The Walt Disney Company and awarded to nonprofits to support conservation projects around the world. By contributing to the DWCF, guests are making a meaningful difference in conserving species all over the world. To see more projects visit Disney.com/conservation and click on the Google Earth application.

Happy Holidays!

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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: Cotton-top Tamarin Conservation Projects Earn Prestigious Award for Environmental Protection in Colombia!

posted on November 12th, 2014 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


Hola desde Colombia! Avid Disney Parks Blog readers may be familiar with the cotton-top tamarin pair that recently moved into a new home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. While the pair delights guests and enjoys their new home, they also serve as animal ambassadors for cotton-top tamarins that live in their native tropical forest home in Colombia. Members of Disney’s Animal Programs have been working with Proyecto Tití in Colombia on a long-term conservation program to protect Colombia’s critically endangered primate. For the past 20+ years, Proyecto Tití and Disney have worked together to not only study wild cotton-top tamarins in the forests of Colombia, but we have helped to develop education programs for rural communities to teach about the importance of protecting cotton-tops and their forest homes and, most importantly, working with communities to develop sustainable income-generating programs so that they can reduce their dependency on forest products. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has also helped to support Proyecto Tití by helping to support the first conservation center dedicated to cotton-top tamarin conservation, awarding Felix Medina as a 2013 Conservation Hero, and providing emergency funding to help stop a fire that was spreading to the forests where our long-term field site is located earlier this year.

I am pleased to share exciting news on behalf of this organization that is so near and dear to my heart. Caracol, the largest television network in Colombia, recently announced the winners of their prize for Protecting the Environment in Colombia, and Proyecto Tití won first place!

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More than 90 organizations applied in two categories – programs led by local communities and those led by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). After selecting Proyecto Tití as one of five finalists, the expert selection committee visited the field site in Santa Catalina and had the opportunity to go into the forest to meet the cotton-tops for the first time in their lives! After their trip to the forest, the committee visited the community of Los Limites where they met the artisans that create the beautiful eco-mochilas and plush cotton-top tamarins toys. The artisans shared how they have been able to start their own businesses and how having a stable source of income has reduced the need to consume forest resources. The last stop for the judges was without a doubt the most impactful. It was when they met the students who have been part of the CARTITILLA, and other education efforts, that they really saw the difference that Proyecto Tití has made in Colombian communities. They couldn’t believe how passionate and dedicated the students are to protecting cotton-tops!

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At the awards ceremony, Felix Medina, a member of the Proyecto Tití team since it began, was overcome with emotion saying, “I remember how difficult it was when we first began working with cotton-tops, but we didn’t give up, we kept on moving forward and now our work has been recognized for its importance in saving cotton-tops. This is the best day for me and for cotton-tops!” Juan Manuael Beltran, Corporate Responsibility Advisor to Caracol shared, “There was no doubt who should win this award. Proyecto Titi’s long-term efforts to bring national and international attention to cotton-top tamarins, their education programs and their income generating programs for local communities, are a model for organizations to use in establishing conservation programs that are effective in Colombia …”

As part of the first place prize, Caracol will provide Proyecto Tití an amazing opportunity to share its story with their viewers and inspire everyone in Colombia to join us in saving cotton-top tamarins! I’ve studied these little monkeys for over 20 years. It brings me great joy to work with the Proyecto Tití team and share this exciting achievement with them!

Check out the photo gallery for more great photos from Colombia!

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Wildlife Wednesday: Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Announces 2014 Disney Conservation Heroes

posted on November 5th, 2014 by Kim Sams, Director, Corporate Citizenship, Conservation Programs, The Walt Disney Company


This year, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund proudly honors 19 individuals from around the world with the Disney Conservation Hero Award. Each is recognized for their dedication to wildlife and wild places with a medal and a $1,500 award to share with the nonprofit organization that nominated them. These recipients are often the backbone of critical conservation efforts, protecting animals ranging from terrapins to monkeys to snow leopards, and employing various innovative methods to educate and engage communities. What they all share is a passion for nature and drive to share their enthusiasm with others.

Here are a few of their stories:

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Jackson Kabuyaya Mbeke (nominated by the Houston Zoo and the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center) has dedicated his life to protecting highly endangered Grauer’s gorillas in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with GRACE. Even amidst armed conflict in the DRC, Jackson, a veterinary technician, kept the vision of GRACE alive to care for gorillas orphaned by poaching so they could live a better life, and one day be reintroduced to the wild. Today, Jackson manages all the Congolese staff at GRACE, who care for 14 gorillas, and helps to direct GRACE’s conservation education and community outreach initiatives. Jackson, along with his wife Denise and their 11 children, act as conservation ambassadors and work to encourage their community to help protect DRC’s wildlife and the forests that they all share.

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Claudia Perla (nominated by Paso Pacifico) tirelessly scrambles up steep cliffs to study the endangered black-handed spider monkey in Nicaragua, where she has gained a reputation in the community for her hard work and grit. As a young female forester, Claudia has persevered through various set-backs and represents the future of conservation in Nicaragua. Her extensive knowledge of the black-handed spider monkey and passion for native forests will be integral to ensuring a better future for this endangered primate and her country.

Photo by Sergei Spitsyn

Once a hunter of the very animals he now works to protect, Mergen Markov (nominated by The Altai Project/Earth Island Institute) risked his family’s livelihood as the first participant in a local program to turn poachers into wildlife protectors. In a remote Russian village, a six-hour journey from the nearest paved road, Mergen confiscates snares, educates fellow hunters, and uses camera traps to monitor snow leopard populations. Since this work began four years ago, the number of snares in the area has decreased by more than 80 percent and the population of snow leopards has grown from just two cats to at least six as of September 2014!

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Sue Robertson (nominated by the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association) has been maintaining and monitoring American kestrel nest boxes for more than 40 years at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania. During her lifelong commitment to kestrels, she estimates that she has banded more than 3,000 birds. She also uses the American kestrel as a model species to talk to school groups about wildlife conservation and has mentored hundreds of trainees from around the world. Recently, Sue participated in the development of the American Kestrel Partnership, which has more than 650 partners and monitors more than 2,000 nests to better protect the species.

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The Storm Drain Terrapin Rescue Team, championed by Joe Grotolla, and Steve and Susan Ahern, (nominated by The Wetlands Institute) has been crucial in the success of diamondback terrapin (turtle) conservation in New Jersey. They discovered that storm drains may pose a significant threat to terrapin hatchlings that get lost in the maze-like networks the storm drains form. The team took action to reduce the potential impacts, working on a volunteer basis to rescue the terrapins, raising money for terrapin conservation and engaging local school children in the efforts. To date the team has rescued and released nearly 5,000 terrapins!

All of these individuals, in addition to the 14 other award recipients, are true conservation heroes working every day to protect the planet. Visit www.disney.com/conservation to read more about all of the 2014 Heroes and remember you can make a difference, too!

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Special Edition Wildlife Wednesday: What Do Rhinos, Art Auctions and Imagineers Have in Common?

posted on October 29th, 2014 by Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Animal Health Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


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?

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Wildlife Wednesday: Cotton-top Tamarins Explore Their New Home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on October 22nd, 2014 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


Last week we helped acquaint you and the newest cotton-top tamarin pair at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Gemma and Draco. The pair has been delighting guests all week. If you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, we’ve got you covered!

Check out these photos to see the pair exploring their new home!

Wildlife Wednesday: Cotton-top Tamarins Explore Their New Home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wildlife Wednesday: Cotton-top Tamarins Explore Their New Home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Did you know…?

  • Cotton-top tamarins are a critically endangered species of primate found only in the tropical forests of Colombia. This 1-pound monkey lives 8-10 years in the wild and the median life expectancy in zoos is 11.2 years.
  • Cotton-top tamarins live in social groups of 2-10 individuals.
  • Females, on average, give birth to twins annually and parental care in this species is shared by all group members.
  • Pairs breed every 28 weeks in captivity, but once a year in the wild. The birth period in the wild appears to be linked to the rainy season when there is the greatest abundance of fruit and insects in the diet.
  • Disney’s Animal Programs’ team members have helped coordinate cotton-top tamarin pairings since 1997 through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP).
  • The word ‘tamarin’ translates to ‘tití’(pronounced tee-tee) in Spanish. Proyecto Tití’s conservation program works to protect cotton-top tamarins in their tropical forest home in Colombia by having a 20+ year study of these amazing animals that has given us new insights into what they need to survive in the wild. Since field studies alone won’t save cotton-top tamarins, Proyecto Tití has also developed innovative strategies to empower local communities to get involved and benefit from conservation activities!
  • Kids in Colombia are involved in conservation, too! Check out the video below to learn more about Proyecto Tití’s programs and the impact they have had on the community and cotton-top tamarin conservation efforts!

On your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to stop by and welcome Draco and Gemma into their new home!

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