More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Endangered Sea Turtles, Rescued from the Cold, Are Now Being Released

Endangered Sea Turtles Rescued

The cold weather we experienced earlier this year gave those of us who make Florida home year-round the chance to wear the sweaters and coats that usually stay hidden away in the back of our closets. It was a fun change for us but not much fun for some of our wonderful Florida wildlife—including endangered sea turtles. Frigid water slows down the sea turtles’ metabolism and can lead to life-threatening comas, frostbite and other health concerns.

To help the turtles, the Disney’s Animal Programs team took part in a massive effort by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to rescue more than 4,500 sea turtles impacted by the record cold temperatures.

Several turtles were brought to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, some suffering from severe infections and damaged shells. Guests have been able to see the turtles undergo examinations and treatment in the veterinary hospital at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Endangered Sea Turtles Rescued

Cast Members also logged more than 10,000 miles throughout the state, carrying more than 500 rescued turtles to warmer waters or rehabilitation facilities. Other efforts included Cast Members delivering much-needed equipment and critical medical supplies including towels, bedspreads, syringes, ointments and pharmaceuticals to areas in need. And a team of Disney’s Animal Programs veterinarians and hospital staff paid a proverbial “house call” to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton where they performed delicate surgeries in a makeshift, M*A*S*H-like field hospital along the beach.

With the arrival of warmer weather, we are beginning to release the sea turtles back to the wild. Four of the 14 sea turtles taken to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for rehabilitation were successfully released over the past few weeks. This morning, members of Disney’s Animal Programs team released another—a 10-pound endangered green sea turtle was returned to its natural habitat near the Canaveral National Seashore— bringing the total released to five. The rest remain under the care of veterinarians and animal care experts in heated, salt-water pools behind Disney’s Animal Kingdom—a backstage area that the team converted into a temporary rehabilitation facility.

Endangered Sea Turtles Rescued

Some of the released sea turtles have been fitted with transmitters which enable researchers to track their movements. Through satellite technology scientists may discover more about sea turtle habits at sea and identify migratory patterns that could hold the key to their survival. This knowledge helps researchers, conservationists and governing agencies make more informed decisions about sea turtle conservation methods and policies.

Since 1986, Disney animal care teams have nursed more than 250 endangered sea turtles back to health. Many of the turtles have been rescued from cold northern waters, nursed back to health at Disney and released in Florida.


  • Glad to hear that you were working toward a great goal!

  • This is just one of the many reasons I love Disney! Thank you to all of the employees and volunteers that helped with this wonderful project.

  • So happy to see the help for the turtles. Keep up the good work.

  • I love this article. We sometimes see Disney only as the business Disney, and forgot to give them credit for all they do for so very many people, and animals. Hats off to Disney, Walt would be proud.

  • Go Disney at least some one cares obout our treasure.than you

  • Glad to hear some were spared freezing. Go Disney! And way to go on the manatee rehab at Epcot too

  • What a wonderful effort! Hoorah for Disney. We were just at Animal Kingdom a couple of weeks ago – I’m sorry we missed seeing these beautiful creatures. Thanks Disney!

  • I think this is absolutely wonderful. Sea Turtles are one of the most beautiful creatures are Earth and I am very happy that Disney is doing all it can to help save this amazing animals. Just one more reason why I think Disney is so great.

  • This is excellent! I love animals and it is great to know that Disney cares too!

  • I really like to hear about these stories from Disney and your other competitors 🙂
    Good to know you are invested in rehabilitation and conservation issues.

  • Excellent! We were on site in January and it was freezing…..

  • Just another reason to LOVE Disney 🙂 This is awesome!

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