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Animals at Walt Disney World Resort Ready for 2021 by Saying Goodbye to 2020

Scott Terrell

by , DVM, DACVP, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

With 2020 almost behind us, I think we all are looking forward to a new year. At Walt Disney World Resort, our animal care team decided to say goodbye to 2020 with an assist from our animals. 

So, without further ado, here’s a look at how we’re closing out the year and gearing up for 2021.

 Words cannot express the depth of my gratitude for our team, who did an incredible job caring for the animals and honestly, each other, during a year unlike any other. As you can see in the video, our cast take great pride in crafting creative enrichment experiences for the animals in our care to enjoy. Their ingenuity always amazes me.

Enrichment is all about giving animals fresh, unique objects in their environment so they can use their natural behaviors to check it out. When we give them novel experiences in unexpected ways, it encourages them to continue to discover and explore.

Rhino calf learning how to use his horn at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Did you catch the babirusa pushing the watermelon down the hill? That’s a natural rooting behavior they do. Black rhinos love watermelon as a special treat, too. They’ll use their horn to smash the melon to their satisfaction while they slurp up all the juices. Our little rhino calf is already learning how to use his horn, too, even though it hasn’t come in just yet. He’s learning how to move things around with his nose, and he loves finding treats keepers hide in recycled boxes and within his cube made from a repurposed firehose.

Watching the animals enjoy their enrichment is also a good reminder of just how incredibly resourceful they are. Our anteater shows a pretty exciting display of skill in demolishing a tower of boxes. Anteaters use their strong arms and nails to dig in search of food, but they also have the ability to stand and grab with them. Similarly, elephants use their trunks and heads to press and push against items to knock them over and get to the yummy food they’re looking for.

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the new year, we hope you’ll swing by Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and learn more about these magnificent animals on your next adventure. You can also learn more about the animals in our care by visiting, following us on social media (@DrMarkAtDisney on Instagram and @DisneyASE on Facebook), and by watching “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” now streaming on Disney+.