Everybody knows that animals are a big part of Disney storytelling, but did you know how much Disney contributes to wildlife conservation?
Disney is a worldwide leader when it comes to, well, basically everything. Including saving wildlife! Everybody knows that animals are a big part of Disney storytelling. We’ve all seen The Lion King and Finding Nemo, right? Or think about Animal Kingdom – the whole entire Disney park dedicated to animals! But it turns out that for Disney, animals play a more important role than just plot devices. Disney is committed, and I mean committed to animal conservation. But I never realized just how committed they were until I started digging into it. Read on to discover all of the cool ways that Disney is quite literally saving wildlife all around the world.
Disney Conservation Fund
First, did you know that Disney has their own conservation fund, aptly called, the “Disney Conservation Fund”? It’s donated over $70 million dollars in grants since 1995! The money goes to conservation experts who, through research and education, work to preserve habitats and prevent animal extinction. In addition to this, the fund awards grants to non-profits that educate communities on how they can best protect their environments.
Did you ever see one of the Disneynature films when they premiered in theaters? If you did, then congratulations! You played a direct part in Disney’s conservation efforts. A portion of ticket sales from each movie goes directly toward protecting that particular species. For example, proceeds from Disneynature’s Chimpanzee was able to protect 130,000 acres of habitat in the Congo AND provide chimpanzee education to over 60,000 local people. Proceeds form Disneynature’s Earth planted 3 MILLION trees in one of Brazil’s most endangered forests. That’s a pretty big deal, don’t you think?!
Did you know that Animal Kingdom is the newest of Walt Disney World’s four theme parks? It opened up on Earth Day in 1998 – how fitting! But I do have a quick confession to make first… Animal Kingdom used to be my least favorite park. There, I said it.
Every time we visited Disney, I never gave it a second thought. I only cared about Magic Kingdom and Epcot! But just about a year ago I visited for the first time in probably a full decade, and my mind was blown. It’s WONDERFUL. It’s gorgeous, interesting, and fun, too!
What sets Animal Kingdom apart from the other parks is its relaxing atmosphere and educational attractions. (Let’s face it, we can’t really consider any of the other parks relaxing, can we?) And as for the attractions with an educational aspect, think about “It’s Tough to be a Bug!” This show will teach you why and bugs are an important part of the ecosystem. And also teach you there’s no reason to be afraid of them! I know that sounds so outrageously childish, but I’m sure we all know an adult who needs that lesson too.
Special Care For The Animals
But what I find most fascinating about Animal Kingdom is the special measures they take to ensure the comfort of the animals. For one, and I learned this one in my training, this is the only park that doesn’t sell or allow balloons on the premises. But, Guest Relations will gladly keep your balloons safe for the duration of your visit! This is to prevent any from inadvertently entering the enclosures and being consumed by an animal.Also, all of the parks have their own version of a nighttime show, and Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom doesn’t include any fireworks. Fireworks would most definitely be disturbing to the animals, don’t you think? Plus, all of the other parks are far enough away that the fireworks can’t be heard at Animal Kingdom.
No balloons allowed at Animal Kingdom!
Yes, both Animal Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom Lodge house animals for human entertainment. But the story goes deeper than just that. It comes down to the conservation and protection of animal species. Disney is committed to preventing at-risk animal species from extinction, fighting poaching, and providing the proper education to help others do the same. Check out the really unique ways Disney has helped protect some at-risk species!
Disney basically brought the Ugandan rhino population out of extinction. Seriously. Out of the 9 rhinos born in Animal Kingdom through the rhino breeding program, two were brought back to Uganda as a potential re-population experiment in 2006. The hope was that these two would breed on their own in their native habitat. Well, five years later and they did just that! In 2011, “Malaika” was the first rhino born in Uganda in about 30 years! P.S. “Malaika” is the Swahili word for “angel”!
Disney and Save The Elephants joined forces to find a solution to the human-elephant conflict in Kenya. This is a big problem, as elephants are sometimes killed for inadvertently destroying farms or homes. This makes peaceful cohabitation between humans and elephants difficult. But through research, it was determined that elephants are afraid of honey bees! Who knew? So, Disney and Save The Elephants created an innovative solution.
They built fences incorporated with beehives around local farms, keeping the elephants out, and creating an additional source of income for the families – honey!
The Disney Conservation Fund helped build the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center, known as GRACE, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This center helps orphaned gorillas learn social and survival skills alongside each other for later reintroduction into the wild – which is essential for survival of the species as a whole!
There is a subspecies of tiger only found in Indonesia that’s on the brink of extinction. But, Disney has found a unique way to try and ensure its survival. They introduced a new character to their popular comic book series, Donal Bebek (translated to Donald Duck). This new character is Treasure, the Sumatran Tiger, who is teaching millions of Indonesians how they can help protect tigers.
Purple martins are a tiny species of songbird that migrate over 3,000 miles from Brazil to Florida each spring to lay their eggs and spend the summer months. Cast members at Walt Disney World set up purple martin houses for them to build nests and lay their eggs in. These houses can be found at Epcot, Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, and Saratoga Springs Resort! Be sure to keep an eye out next time you visit.
So, what do you think? I’d say Disney does a pretty amazing job when it comes to wildlife conservation! But if you happen to know of any other ways that Disney is saving animals, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments!