More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

A Mother’s Love Witnessed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

I am frequently called upon to photograph new arrivals, whether they are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I love those assignments, and have made a few memorable images over the years. But I have also learned that when you enter the world of animal life, animals make all the rules. I have waited hours for “moments” to occur, sometimes in vain. On this recent occasion, I feel that I had some success, thanks to a caring mother who was not camera shy.
A Mother's Love

Pictured here is a tender moment between mother and baby that I witnessed recently backstage at DAK. Mom, appropriately named “Big Girl”, is shown bonding with her three-day old male calf named “Bolo”. I converted the original to black and white, and feel that it enhances the emotional connection here. Tell me what you think.


  • I adore this!!!

  • Thanks for the insights Gene. It really does help us amateurs to see how the pros do it!!!

  • Thanks everyone… Here goes, Brian- I’m using a Nikon D3 camera with a 80-200mm lens, zoomed to 165 mm. My ISO setting is 400, shutter speed 200th/sec at f.5. The original was in color, of course, and was fairly monochromatic. I feel that the black & white conversion provides a richer tonal range without color that can sometimes be distracting.

  • Wow! Great Photo! Any chance you can let us in on the settings used??

  • Just the sweetest! 🙂 The same sort of love I feel for MY little boy. I guess all mama’s love their little ones the same way – animal or human. I’m glad you made it black and white. Very tender. Love it!

  • Yes, Gene, animals do make all the rules (likewise children when they’re the subject matter!) 😉 However, this is a stunning shot, and you were definitely rewarded for your patience! I really like the treatment you did; there are no distractions occurring (that might have been present with color) and we are immediately drawn to those precious faces… simply beautiful! Congratulations on a wonderful work of art! 8(:-D

  • This photo is wonderful. The expression of love from Big Girl to Bolo is beautifully captured in your work. Thank you for sharing.

  • Nice shot Gene. Capturing emotion between animals must take incredible patience. I really like it in B&W.

  • What a great photo. there’s something about a mother’s love black and white is wonderfull in really captureing the piture. I’m from washington state and we dont have a wild life park like the kingdom.

  • That is a powerful picture. Thank you for sharing! Black and White was definately the way to go.

  • What an adorable photo. Yes, the b&w really gives some emotion to the photo.

  • This is beautiful. What a fantastic job you have! I think the Animal Kingdom assignments would be my favorites! 🙂

  • Excellent photo. I can only imagine being able to document the real circle of life, hollywood events, fantasy, and international affairs without ever leaving work. What an amazing job and talent you have.
    Keep the photos coming!
    – Jonathan (who introduced himself at Tiana’s Showboat premiere)

  • Gene, you are such a lucky person to be in the right place at the right time to get such a beautiful picture. The black & white makes it so dramatic and I too got chills. I love Animal Kingdom and when I’m at WDW I spend more time there than any another park.
    Thank you for giving us this wonderful gift.

  • Gene, your photos are amazing and this one is truly a magical moment! What a joy to capture such love among the animal world… Thanks for sharing this with us and keep the wonderful photos coming! ºOº

  • That’s so sweet! It looks like an image out of the opening scene of The Lion King.

  • Wow, Gene! That is really an amazing picture & I think that it is completely incredible in black & white! It gave me chills when I looked at it because it’s just so sweet! We saw a mama giraffe with her baby in September when we were on safari at Animal Kingdom ~ it was amazing! You are an amazing photographer!

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