'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' Movie Set Adventure at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Wildlife Wednesdays: Rare Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra Born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on October 30th, 2013 by Matt Hohne, Animal Operations Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the arrival of a baby animal is always cause for celebration, but when the baby is a Hartmann’s mountain zebra, it’s even more rewarding for the animal care team. The population of this rare species of zebra is teetering at just under 50 animals in the U.S., and the Hartmann’s mountain zebra is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list of threatened species.
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The filly was born earlier this month at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Guests are able to see her with her mom roaming the resort’s savanna.

Disney’s Animal Programs team is actively involved in the Hartmann’s mountain zebra Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP).

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Did you know?

  • There are three species of zebra, two of which live on the savannas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. You can see plains zebras as well as Hartmann’s mountain zebras during your stay.
  • If you look carefully, you can tell which zebra species is which by their stripes: plains zebras have wider stripes that wrap around their bellies. The Hartmann’s mountain zebras have thinner stripes that do not extend around the belly.
  • There are many theories concerning the major function of the stripes on a zebra. Most scientists believe that the zebra’s stripes may serve to break up the outline of the zebra’s body in the herd and provide some camouflage when the zebra is standing in tall grass. And no two individual zebras look exactly alike.
  • Like zebras, many local species of wildlife are threatened by loss of habitat. Creating natural habitats for the wildlife in your own backyard is a great way to help. You can do this by planting native trees, shrubs and flowers, which serve as food sources and nesting sites for the wildlife near you. To learn more about Disney’s conservation efforts, please visit www.disney.com/conservation
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’

posted on October 23rd, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Hanging up bat decorations for Halloween is great holiday fun but at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we also want to keep real bats hanging around. Bats play a critical role in nature, helping to control pests and pollinate countless plants, including delicious fruits like bananas and mangoes.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’

On Halloween, we’re celebrating Bat Day with special activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch where guests will discover that bats are cool, not creepy. Guests can enter a “bat cave” and test their skills at identifying North American bats. Fun games help guests learn what bats eat and what challenges they face. Guests also can meet our bat keepers and find out how we care for the bats that make their home on the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They might even see one of our bats getting its wellness exam in the Veterinary Hospital.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’ Wildlife Wednesdays: Halloween Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Helps to Keep Bats ‘Hanging Around’

Did you know?

  • The Malayan Flying Fox, which guests can see on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, is one of the largest bats in the world with a wingspan of close to 6 feet. Another bat species at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Rodrigues fruit bat.
  • Contrary to popular myths, bats are not blind and do not become entangled in human hair.
  • For 2013, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) is supporting Bat Conservation International projects that are helping to protect long-nosed bats in the Caribbean, golden-capped fruit bats in the Philippines and straw-colored bats in Africa. This year, the DWCF also is supporting a Lubee Bat Conservancy project that is helping flying foxes in Madagascar.
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Wildlife Wednesdays: Worldwide Conservation Leaders Gather at Walt Disney World Resort to Focus on ‘One Plan’ Approach to Help Wildlife

posted on October 16th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Did you know that the beautiful golden lion tamarin — which guests can see at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — might be extinct in its native Brazil if zoological facilities hadn’t helped? With fewer than 200 left, zoos around the world banded together to reintroduce golden lion tamarins born in their facilities to the wild. These animals joined wild golden lion tamarins to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.
A Golden Lion Tamarin, Like the Ones Guests Can See at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Most people think of zoos, aquariums and other wildlife parks as great places to see amazing animals and to connect with nature—and they are. What people may not be aware of is all of the conservation work that these facilities do and what a huge impact they have. This includes, of course, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.

Over the past week, we’ve been proud to host here at the Walt Disney World Resort conservation leaders from around the world. Some are here as part of their attendance at the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) Annual Meeting. (CBSG is a global network of conservation professionals.) The remainder are here to attend the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) Annual Conference. (WAZA members are leading zoos, aquariums and related organizations from around the world.)
Jörg Junhold, Director, Leipzig Zoo, Germany, and Gerald Dick, WAZA Executive Director, with Jackie Ogden

The success of the effort to save golden lion tamarins is a great example of what CBSG and WAZA members refer to as a “One Plan” approach to species conservation, with a goal of one comprehensive conservation plan for wildlife whether they are in human care or in their native habitats.

Did you know?

  • Golden lion tamarins are an endangered species native to Brazil’s Atlantic coastal forest. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has helped support long-term conservation efforts to protect the golden lion tamarin’s forest home.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom also is home to two other tamarin species: emperor tamarins and cotton-top tamarins (visit www.proyectotiti.com to find out more about conservation efforts led by Dr. Anne Savage, Conservation Director at Disney’s Animal Kingdom).
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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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Wildlife Wednesdays: 99 Baby Sea Turtles for Tour de Turtles Mom at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

posted on October 2nd, 2013 by Anne Savage, Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animal Programs


UPDATE 10/3: This just in! We inventoried Carrie’s first nest today (remember she nested twice), and it had a “monstrous” number of hatchlings—161 to be exact. This is our largest loggerhead nest this year!

It’s a boy . . . and a girl . . . and another boy . . . and another girl! Well, we don’t know exactly how many boy and girls there were (did you know that the sex of a baby sea turtle is determined by the temperature of the nest?), but we do know that Tour de Turtles loggerhead sea turtle mom Claire’s nest had 99 hatchlings.
Wildlife Wednesdays: 99 Baby Sea Turtles for Tour de Turtles Mom at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

Those of you who’ve been following our Tour de Turtles posts over the summer know that, in July, two Disney-sponsored sea turtles, Claire and Carrie (named for characters in the Disney•Pixar film “Monsters University“), who had laid their eggs the night before, returned to the sea at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. The turtles were fitted with satellite transmitters and released near the resort as part of the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s annual “Tour de Turtles“, which follows the marathon migration of 12 sea turtles from their nesting beaches to their foraging grounds.

Just a few days ago, Claire’s hatchlings emerged from their nest. We’re still awaiting the results of Carrie’s nests — in a Tour de Turtles first, she came ashore twice in the same year to nest near Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. During nesting season, guests visiting Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot can adopt the nest of a sea turtle that lays her eggs at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.

The adoption fee is directed through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) to sea turtle conservation efforts in Florida. This past nesting season, guests adopted nearly 200 turtle nests, resulting in more than $7,000 directed to the DWCF to support conservation of Florida’s sea turtles and their habitats this year.

Want to find out more about Disney’s sea turtle conservation efforts? Check out our new video.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Elephants Eat Their Fruits and Veggies, and a Whole Lot More! Find out on Elephant Appreciation Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on September 25th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


We know that lots of fruits and veggies are part of a healthy diet. Apparently, elephants know that too. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, an adult male elephant will eat 28 pounds of produce in one day–and that’s not all! He’ll also eat 7 bales of hay, 5 bundles of grass, 2-to-3 bundles of browse, and 15 pounds of grain. And as we try to drink 8 or more glasses of water each day, elephants will guzzle 25-50 gallons of water. It all adds up to about 400-600 pounds of food in a day, which is as much as an average person eats in an entire year.
Elephants Eat Their Fruits and Veggies, and a Whole Lot More!

Guests who visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom tomorrow (September 26) will learn lots of fun and informative facts about elephants during our Elephant Appreciation Day celebration, taking place at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

In addition to learning what—and how much—an elephant eats, guests who stop by Rafiki’s Planet Watch can:

  • Test their skills at “eating like an elephant” using a replica of an elephant trunk.
  • Color an elephant mask that they can take home.
  • Learn about the elephants that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and talk with members of our elephant care team.
  • Discover how bee sounds are being used to help keep elephants away from crops.
  • Find out about elephant conservation efforts supported through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund

Elephants Eat Their Fruits and Veggies, and a Whole Lot More!

Did you know?

  • Every day, guests experiencing the Kilimanjaro Safaris and Wild Africa Trek can see members of the Disney’s Animal Kingdom elephant herd.
  • Jabali, who is two years old, is the youngest member of the herd. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is part of a breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in North America.
  • Disney scientists study elephant communication—using audio-recording collars. Elephants make powerful, low-frequency “rumbles” that humans often cannot hear and can communicate over distances of several miles using these rumbles. Learn more at the Wildlife Tracking Center at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Disney scientists conduct hormone analyses, using specialized tests called immunoassays, to monitor the reproductive status of the female elephants before and during pregnancy. Guests can watch scientists perform these and other analyses in the Wildlife Tracking Center.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Live Chat Hosted by Disneynature — National Parks Service Ranger Roy Answers Questions About Bears

posted on September 18th, 2013 by Beth Stevens, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, Environment and Conservation


I am so excited about the next Disneynature film, and I think you will be too! Just in time for Earth Day 2014, Disneynature will release its new True Life Adventure “Bears.” In theaters April 18, “Bears” is an epic story of breathtaking scale set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life. The film follows a bear family as impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons.

I have seen Alaskan bears firsthand, and truly they are amazing animals. I’m excited that now you can see them too. Today, at 6 p.m. EDT, Disneynature and Explore.org, will host a live chat with Ranger Roy from the National Park Service to answer your questions about bears and Alaska.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Live Chat Hosted by Disneynature—National Parks Service Ranger Roy

Right now, you can head over to http://www.explore.org/bearfun and check out a live bear cam in Katmai National Park, download a Disneynature “Bears” activity sheet, and get more information about the bears that you’re seeing.

Be sure to see Disneynature “Bears” when it roars onto the big screen on April 18. SEE “BEARS,” PROTECT OUR NATIONAL PARKS invites moviegoers to see the film during opening week (April 18-24, 2014) and Disneynature, via the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to protect wildlife and wild places across America’s national park system.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Disneynature 'Bears'

Did you know?

  • Disney’s commitment to conservation is a key pillar of the Disneynature label. Through donations tied to opening week attendance for its first four theatrical releases (“Earth,” “Oceans,” African Cats,” and “Chimpanzee”), Disneynature, through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) www.disney.com/conservation, has planted three million trees in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, established 40,000 acres of marine protected area in The Bahamas, protected 65,000 acres of savanna in Kenya, protected nearly 130,000 acres of wild chimpanzee habitat, educated 60,000 school children about chimpanzee conservation and cared for chimpanzees.
  • The DWCF also provides grants to critical conservation projects around the world and, this year, achieved a significant milestone by issuing its 1,000th conservation grant. The DWCF is supported by Disney as well as guest contributions at merchandise and other select locations including Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Disney Vacation Club Resorts and Disney Cruise Line. Other funding comes from merchandise initiatives like reusable bags and special guest programs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends
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Duckies Waddle at Aulani to Support Efforts in Conserving Our Lands and Water

posted on September 6th, 2013 by Todd Apo, Director, Public Affairs, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa


To commemorate the second anniversary of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, last week – and in support of the Nature Conservancy – a global conservation organization, cast members and guests celebrated with the resort’s first-ever Ducky Derby through the Waikolohe Stream. We captured a “duck-eye” view of more than 1,000 rubber duckies starting their journey from the top of Tubestone Curl, then making a mad splash around the stream before racing to the finish line. For each guest participating, Aulani made a $10 donation, resulting in a $10,000 contribution to Hawai`iʻs Nature Conservancy to help preserve and sustain Hawai`iʻs environment – from the mountains to the ocean.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Vultures and Manatees Demystified at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot

posted on September 4th, 2013 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Vultures and manatees are two creatures that often are misunderstood. That’s one reason why it’s so much fun for us to showcase them with special activities — there’s so much to learn about! For example, take a look at the following:
“Vultures

  • Myth or fact: Vultures can help prevent the spread of rabies. This is a fact — by eating the carcasses of dead animals, vultures help prevent the spread of life-threatening diseases, such as rabies, among animals and humans.

“Manatees

  • Myth or fact: Manatees are closely related to cows (or walruses, or seals). This is a myth — although they are sometimes called sea cows, elephants are one of the manatee’s closest relatives.

Guests can find out all about vultures during special activities in celebration of International Vulture Awareness Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on September 5 and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge on September 7. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, activities will take place near the Tree of Life and at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, activities will take place in the Jambo House lobby. Year-round, guests can see lappet-faced vultures at the Tree of Life, black vultures at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Ruppell’s griffon vultures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

At The Seas with Nemo & Friends on September 7, special activities are designed to help guests learn about manatees and how to protect them in celebration of International Manatee Day. For example, guests will find out that manatees belong to a group of aquatic, plant-eating mammals called sirenians. They also will learn that actions all of us can take to keep waterways clean, such as recycling plastic bottles and used fishing line, can protect these majestic mammals. Rescued manatees Lou and Vail make their home at The Seas. The marine mammal team said that Lou and Vail will be celebrating International Manatee Day too, by eating fruits and vegetables from local farmers markets.

Among the 2013 projects supported by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund are projects helping protect vultures and manatees. To find out more, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Reaches Major Milestone — 1,000 Grants Since 1995 for Critical Conservation Needs

posted on August 28th, 2013 by Beth Stevens, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, Environment and Conservation


When we started the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) in 1995, I couldn’t have dreamed that I would have the honor of making this announcement: The DWCF has just awarded its 1,000th conservation grant. That means we are celebrating 1,000 projects around the world protecting the world’s wildlife and connecting kids and communities to nature.

These projects include 150 that were notified this week of their selection. These 2013 projects are addressing critical conservation needs that include:
“Disney

  • Engaging youth in Shanghai and nearby communities in field monitoring to help protect the Chinese alligator.

“Disney

  • Protecting chimpanzees in Uganda, some of which were featured in the Disneynature film “Chimpanzee.”
  • Learning more about sharks using satellite transmitters to understand their behavior.

“Disney

  • Reintroducing whooping cranes back to the wild using an ultralight aircraft to teach the birds to migrate from Wisconsin to Florida.
  • Working with communities in Argentina to conserve the Andean cat and other local carnivores.

This year’s dedicated recipients are working with communities on conservation programs that ensure a brighter future for wildlife and the natural world we share.

Guests’ contributions at our Disney Parks and Resorts help us to support amazing conservation efforts around the world every year. The DWCF is supported by Disney and by guest contributions at merchandise and other select locations including Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Disney Vacation Club Resorts and Disney Cruise Line. Other funding comes from merchandise initiatives like reusable bags and special guest programs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.

Since its founding, the DWCF has provided $24 million in grants to programs in more than half the countries in the world.

To see a complete list of 2013 DWCF grant recipients, this year’s Conservation Heroes, as well as other information on Disney’s commitment to conservation, please visit www.disney.com/conservation.

Which of this year’s projects are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.

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