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April 26, 2016

Disney Conservation Fund Celebrates 20-Year Anniversary by Unveiling New Initiative to Protect the Planet

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(Dr. Jane Goodall visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom recently to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Disney Conservation Fund and support the launch of its new initiative called “Reverse the Decline, Increase the Time,” which aims to reverse the decline of threatened species through scientific research and increasing the time kids spend in nature.)

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 19, 2016) –- The Disney Conservation Fund (DCF), in honor of its 20th anniversary, announced a targeted philanthropic strategy to help protect the planet by collaborating with leading nonprofit organizations that will help threatened wildlife and inspire a lifelong love of nature in young people. The new initiative, called Reverse the Decline, Increase the Time, is aimed at reversing the decline of 10 threatened species through scientific research, community engagement, and increasing the time kids spend in nature to inspire them to care for the planet.

As part of Reverse the Decline, Disney is supporting a network of leading conservation nonprofit organizations to develop strategic plans that aim to reverse the decline of 10 animals: elephants, butterflies, coral reefs, tamarin monkeys, great apes, sea turtles, sharks and rays, cranes, rhinos and tigers. These organizations employ experts who work with each species to address the protection of habitats, collect critical population data, and develop conservation and education programs in critical ecosystems around the world. Additionally, this initiative provides opportunities for Disney to apply the expertise and talents of its employees and cast members to help reverse the decline of these animals. Already, scientists, educators and veterinarians on Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team are collaborating with each organization to help protect threatened species and their habitats.

Increase the Time, the second part of the two-pronged commitment, comes on the heels of a 2012 Disney initiative to connect 35 million kids and families with nature experiences by 2015. Disney reached the target a year early based on its efforts to connect kids with nature through support from the Disney Conservation Fund to nonprofit organizations and nature experiences in Disney Parks and Resorts. The new Increase the Time initiative amplifies the philanthropic component of these efforts to fund projects with leading nonprofit organizations that engage young people in discovering the magic of nature and inspiring them to protect the planet.

Since 1995, DCF has provided $40 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in 115 countries.

What is Reverse the Decline and Increase the Time?

In the next decade, Disney Conservation Fund’s commitment will be focused in two areas:

Increase the Time kids spend in nature.
Reverse the Decline of threatened animals in the wild.
Disney aims to make measurable conservation impacts by inspiring the next generation to care about the planet.

Why Reverse the Decline?

The Disney Conservation Fund’s focus on the future builds on conservation accomplishments of the past. The Reverse the Decline initiative seeks to:

Stabilize and increase dwindling numbers of threatened animals around the world by providing grants and applying the expertise of Disney employees and cast members to address threatened species.

Engage leading conservation organizations to come together to create and implement comprehensive, measurable, strategic plans to reverse the decline of ten threatened animal populations in the wild.

Build upon the significant work Disney’s team of animal experts has been doing for years: working to reduce human-elephant conflict to benefit people in Kenya; involving kids in coral reef protection; providing expertise on the care of orphaned gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; engaging communities in conservation of cotton-top tamarins in Colombia; and raising awareness about the endangered sea turtles that nest on Florida’s beaches. Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment cast members will work with each of the Reverse the Decline organizations to determine where the company can lend support from expert teams to advance efforts to protect threatened species in places where they live.

The 10 threatened species include:

Big Cats: The Sumatran tiger is critically endangered as a result of poaching, both of tigers and their prey species; high rates of habitat loss as a result of human encroachment, deforestation, and forest fires; illegal wildlife trade; and the killing of tigers involved in human-tiger conflict. A consortium of Sumatra-based organizations aims to increase Sumatran tiger population levels by reducing poaching and illegal trade, encouraging community engagement, and improving the management of protected areas.

Butterflies: In many cultures, butterflies are considered beautiful symbolic creatures; but they are also important pollinators and indicators of environmental health and model organisms for studying the impact of habitat loss and climate change. Butterflies are threatened by loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat. Disney is supporting work to identify the numerous at-risk butterfly species in Florida and California and to develop tailored conservation strategies for the most critical groups, including habitat restoration, captive breeding and reintroduction programs.

Coral Reefs: Living coral reefs are diverse ecosystems built by colonies of tiny animals (corals) that support a vast array of marine organisms and help provide natural protective barriers to coastal erosion. Numerous threats to coral reefs include coral bleaching, reduced growth and dying reefs as a result of climate change and changing ocean chemistry caused through acidification; in addition, widespread disease, coastal development, anchor damage, predation, and invasive species contribute to their decline. Disney is collaborating with experts in the Caribbean to protect the shrinking Bahamian reefs through a comprehensive study, training, and actions such as limiting harmful human contact with existing reefs, promoting natural coral reef ecosystem resilience, setting up coral nurseries, and experimenting with reef rehabilitation techniques.

Elephants: The African elephant is currently listed as a vulnerable species, due in large part to poaching driven by the illegal ivory trade. However, human-elephant conflict also contributes to elephant declines as many elephants are killed in retaliation for damaged crops and homes and even loss of human life. Disney is helping to reverse their decline by supporting work that addresses both poaching and human-elephant conflict, protects elephant habitat, promotes conservation legislation and helps train local conservationists.

Great Apes: Gorillas and chimpanzees are among our closest relatives, yet they are threatened as a result of human activities. Grauer’s gorillas and eastern chimpanzees are two endangered great ape species found in the Eastern portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Their populations have dwindled due to hunting for bushmeat, capture for the illegal wildlife pet trade, and habitat loss and fragmentation. Disney’s support will help nonprofit organizations work with communities to reduce hunting, explore strategies to reintroduce rehabilitated apes to the wild, increase protection of great apes by local communities, and fund analysis and implementation of additional conservation strategies.

Migratory Birds: Cranes are iconic birds, especially in China, where the Siberian crane overwinters before traveling to its breeding grounds in northern Russia. The Siberian crane is critically endangered due to the loss of wetland habitat along its migratory route. Disney is supporting work to monitor and protect the relevant stopover sites along the birds’ more-than-three-thousand-mile migration path.

Monkeys: Disney is supporting work to protect two kinds of tamarins (tiny forest dwelling monkeys) – golden lion tamarins in Brazil and cotton-top tamarins in Colombia. Golden lion tamarins are threatened by forest habitat fragmentation due to urban development and Disney is supporting efforts in Brazil to restore the connections among enough forest fragments and golden-lion tamarin populations to save the species from extinction. In Colombia, Disney’s support is helping to protect and expand forest habitat, reduce the illegal wildlife trade, recycle more than three million plastic bags, and create alternative income sources for community members.

Rhinos: The critically endangered Sumatran rhino is the smallest member of the rhinoceros family and is known for its distinct hairiness. While the exact number of remaining Sumatran rhinos is difficult to determine, some estimate the population at less than a hundred. Disney’s support will help nonprofit organizations to address the threats of habitat loss and poaching by improving the range and effectiveness of anti-poaching patrols, increasing population numbers through a conservation breeding program, working with local communities to stop forest encroachment, and working with the Indonesian government to implement a national protection strategy.

Sea Turtles: The five species of endangered and threatened sea turtles in Florida face numerous threats including death in fisheries bycatch, loss of nesting and foraging habitats, and climate change. Disney’s support to Reverse the Decline of Florida’s sea turtles helps nonprofit organizations to combat the many threats to sea turtles by increasing public awareness, monitoring populations, and restoring marine habitat and beach nesting areas.

Sharks and Rays: Many species of sharks and rays around the world are considered endangered, impacted by factors such as overfishing, loss of habitat, and pollution. Sharks and rays cannot easily overcome these threats because they are slow to mature and reproduce relative to other fish. Disney is supporting the recovery of sharks and rays by supporting the scientific management of fisheries, reducing the demand for shark and ray products, and advancing research to secure protected status for threatened species.

Why Increase the Time?

The Disney Conservation Fund’s Increase the Time initiative supports the following nonprofit organizations to connect kids and families with nature. Children who are exposed to nature are happier and healthier, and it is widely believed that these outdoor experiences lead to kids caring about the planet over their lifetimes:

4-H: As part of the organization’s commitment to teach young people about science, technology, engineering and math, with Disney grants the National 4-H Council is engaging more than 8,700 youth in 14 urban communities across eight states in hands-on experiences through after school clubs and summer camps to inspire youth to protect and preserve the planet.

Association of Zoos and Aquariums: With support from Disney, The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is removing barriers and apprehension for families to engage with nature by providing resources to families, educators and accredited zoological institutions to establish or expand nature play opportunities – providing and encouraging family nature play opportunities at zoos, aquariums and within local communities.

Children & Nature Network: The Children & Nature Network is leading a movement to connect children, families and communities to nature with innovative ideas, evidence-based resources, and broad-based support of grassroots leadership. The members of this coalition work together to curate current research and address the challenges it presents.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW): IFAW is hosting a Youth Forum for People and Wildlife in South Africa – bringing together young conservation leaders (ages 18-25) from across the globe to connect with experts, explore solutions and build skills to help them better understand and address wildlife conservation issues. The Forum is occurring just ahead of the CITES COP in South Africa – a convening of global experts to tackle the world’s biggest wildlife challenges and opportunities. IFAW is also creating a digital platform to engage thousands of school-aged children worldwide in the Forum.

Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots: Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is the youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. The program builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people. Disney’s grants to the organization support programs in 13 countries, empowering the next generation of environmental stewards.

National Park Foundation (NPF): Disney is supporting the National Park Foundation’s (NPF) efforts to connect half a million kids with national park experiences by 2017 through NPF’s Find Your Park Campaign and the Open OutDoors for Kids program. The program provides grants to local schools to enable hands-on field trips to nearby parks and historical monuments.

National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA): Disney, including Disney|ABC Television Group and ESPN, are supporting NRPA’s Parks Build Community campaign, providing grants for local park projects in 16 U.S. cities to revitalize parks and improve kids’ access to sports, help families live healthier, and connect kids and families with nature.

National Wildlife Federation (NWF): The National Wildlife Federation encourages kids and families to pledge to be Butterfly Heroes and commit to creating backyard garden habitats for pollinators and other wildlife. Disney also supports the Great American Campout which encourages kids and families to immerse themselves in outdoor experiences together.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC): DCF supports school garden programs with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to provide online resources that integrate gardens into curriculum, while extending mini-grants to schools that build gardens as outdoor classrooms. In the past, Disney has also supported Nature Rocks, a TNC online platform for parents to find ways for their kids to get outside no matter what season, or where they live, as well as TNC’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program which provides summer internships for high school students.

September 30, 2014

Second Baby in Month Born to Endangered Gorilla Family Thriving at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Sept. 24, 2014 - It's another boy! Disney Cast Members, guests and animal lovers are celebrating the birth of the second gorilla in one month for the family of critically endangered western lowland gorillas at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Born Sept. 3 to mother Kashata and father Gino, the healthy infant joins another male gorilla who was born Aug. 7 to Azizi and Gino. The family group also includes another adult female, Benga, and a four-year-old female named Lilly.

"It's exciting to see a strong, nurturing family of this endangered species flourishing at Disney's Animal Kingdom," said Jay Therien, Animal Operations Manager for Disney's Animal Programs. "As our bouncing baby boy bonds with Kashata, we're thrilled with his health and development."

This second baby is a welcome addition to the growing gorilla family that inhabits the wooded sanctuary of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney's Animal Kingdom. As the two new infants adjust to their environment, members of the primate care team at Disney's Animal Kingdom are delighted with the evolving family dynamic. As an experienced mother, Kashata cares capably for both this newborn and her daughter, Lilly, and serves as a maternal role model for new mother Azizi as she nurtures her own infant. And despite his imposing size and stature, Gino is remarkably tender with his two new babies, providing protection and guidance for his family.

This is the fifth gorilla born at Disney's Animal Kingdom as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals. The first gorilla birth at Disney's Animal Kingdom occurred in 1997 before the park opened, the second baby arrived in 1999, a third followed in 2010 and the fourth came just last month.

Disney's Animal Kingdom also participates in AZA Species Survival Plans for animals including elephants, cotton-top tamarins and okapi. Aside from breeding activities, Disney's Animal Programs team remains active in gorilla conservation in other areas. The team:

-- Provides staff expertise for GRACE, the first rescue and rehabilitation center in eastern Africa for orphaned gorillas. Designed to ultimately reintroduce gorillas back into the wild, the effort is supported by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, which has provided more than $24 million to conservation efforts around the globe since it started in 1995.

-- Innovated an animal training technique that enables experts to monitor gorillas' heart health by administering cardiac ultrasound exams on fully alert gorillas.

GORILLA FACTS:

After a pregnancy of nearly nine months, female gorillas give birth to one infant that typically weighs just four pounds. After birth, infant gorillas cling to their mothers' fur for the first several months, then ride on their mothers' backs through the first two or three years of life.

Gorillas are typically weaned between the ages of four and five years, but begin to eat solids between two to six months.

Troops are led by one dominant, older adult male, often called a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns otherwise dark fur. Troops also include several other young males, some females and their offspring.

In the wild, western lowland gorillas are found in lowland tropical rainforests throughout western Africa.

Gorillas are the largest of all primates, standing up to six feet tall and weighing up to 450 lbs.

The gorilla habitat in Africa is quickly disappearing due to the mining of coltan, a mineral used to make batteries for electronics. Recycling cell phones or laptops may contribute to gorilla conservation.

August 18, 2014

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates Birth of Endangered Gorilla

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Endangered Gorilla Born at Disney's Animal Kingdom Endangered Gorilla Born at Disney's Animal Kingdom


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Aug. 15, 2014 - As they follow the path that winds along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, guests at Disney's Animal Kingdom may get a glimpse of one of nature's most endearing sights - a newborn male gorilla cuddling with his mother. Born Aug. 7 to mother Azizi and father Gino, the healthy infant has already become an integral member of his family group, which includes two other adult females, Kashata and Benga and a four-year-old female named Lilly.

Members of the primate team at Disney's Animal Kingdom are closely watching mother and baby to ensure Azizi is adapting to her maternal duties, such as properly holding the baby and keeping up with his demanding nursing schedule. Most gorilla mothers keep their offspring close for several months as the infants adjust to their environment. Gorillas are typically weaned between the ages of four and five, but begin to eat solids between two to six months.

"We're pleased with the way Azizi is bonding with her baby and meeting his needs," said Jay Therien, Animal Operations Manager for Disney's Animal Programs. "As we work to maintain the population of critically endangered western lowland gorillas, healthy babies like this little guy are critical to the survival of his species."

The new baby, which is yet to be named, is the fourth gorilla born at Disney's Animal Kingdom as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals. The first gorilla birth at Disney's Animal Kingdom occurred in 1997 before the park opened, the second baby arrived in 1999 and the third was born in 2010.

Disney's Animal Kingdom also participates in AZA Species Survival Plans for animals including elephants, cotton-top tamarins and okapi. Aside from breeding activities, Disney's Animal Programs team remains active in gorilla conservation in other areas. The team currently:

-- Provides staff expertise for the first rescue and rehabilitation center in eastern Africa for orphaned gorillas. Designed to ultimately reintroduce gorillas back into the wild, the effort is supported by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, which has provided more than $24 million to conservation efforts around the globe since it started in 1995.

-- Innovated a training technique developed by the Disney's Animal Kingdom team that monitors gorillas' heart health by administering cardiac ultrasound exams on fully alert gorillas.

GORILLA FACTS:

Gorillas are the largest of all primates, standing 5-6 feet tall and weighing up to 450 lbs.

After a pregnancy of nearly nine months, female gorillas give birth to one infant that typically weighs just four pounds. After birth, infant gorillas cling to their mothers' fur for the first several months, then ride on their mothers' backs from through the first two or three years of life.

In the wild, western lowland gorillas are found in lowland tropical rainforests throughout western Africa.

The gorilla habitat in Africa is quickly disappearing due to the mining of coltan, a mineral used to make batteries for electronics. Recycling cell phones or laptops may contribute to gorilla conservation.

November 8, 2013

Baby Zebra Adds its Stripes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Savanna

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Nov. 1, 2013 - Sporting black and white stripes, there's a new addition to the savanna at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. In October, the team welcomed a rare, baby Hartmann's Mountain zebra.

The filly and her mother are bonding well and doing fine after the yearlong gestation. Disney's animal care team, including veterinarians carefully monitored the mother throughout her pregnancy.

Typically found in mountainous regions of southwestern Africa, the species is characterized by a striking pattern of narrow vertical stripes covering its head and body. The species is considered endangered, with only 50 Hartmann's mountain zebras in the United States and an estimated 7,000 throughout the world.

Disney's Animal Programs team is actively involved in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for this critical species. The team is proud to have a successful birth of a rare species.

The Hartmann's mountain zebra is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of threatened species, which determines the risk of extinction to animals. The zebra's endangerment continues due to experience of loss of habitat in their native Africa.

Just a few fun facts about zebras:

-- With three species of zebra, they can be distinguished by their stripes: plains zebras have wider stripes that wrap around their bellies. The Hartmann's Mountain zebras have thinner stripes that don't extend around the belly.

-- No two individual zebras look exactly alike.

-- 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.

-- The Hartmann's Mountain zebra can weigh up to 800 pounds and grow up to eight and a half feet.

-- Mountain zebras eat mostly grass, bark, leaves and tree and shrub shoots. Though they prefer mountainous regions for their habitat, they are known to move to lower elevations to graze in cold weather and seek shelter in caves or wooded areas.

January 1, 2013

Disney’s Animal Programs Works with New England Aquarium to Aid Sea Turtles

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Dec. 28, 2012 --The Seas with Nemo & Friends welcomed some new swimmers recently, with the addition of eight Kemp's Ridley sea turtles suffering from hypothermia after a recent cold snap in New England.

As a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, Walt Disney World Resort is one of several organizations working with the New England Aquarium to provide medical care for the weak sea turtles after the New England Aquarium sea turtle hospital reached capacity. Disney's Animal Programs' team members picked up the sea turtles and provided thorough medical assessments including x-rays and blood tests.

Sea turtles are vulnerable to cold weather and frigid waters that lower their body temperatures and slow their metabolism, which could lead to life-threatening comas.

"The team at Disney's Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends celebrate and conserve turtles and tortoises every day," said Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., vice president, of Animals, Science and Environment for Disney Parks. "Over the years, our animal care team has nursed more than 300 endangered sea turtles back to health and released them back to the wild."

Currently, Disney's animal care experts are focused on increasing the turtles' body weight and strength for open water swimming in the ocean. According to the care team, the sea turtles are eating well and recovering nicely. The ultimate goal is to release them into the wild, under direction of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

In addition to caring for the Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, Disney's Animal Programs Cast Members have transported cold-stunned loggerhead sea turtles to other rehabilitation centers in Florida.

Did you know?

-- Disney's Animal Programs often is called upon to help distressed animals. Disney animal care experts help to support the rescue and rehabilitation of hundreds of injured and orphaned animals every year.

-- Since its inception, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has directed more than $1.1 million to sea turtle conservation efforts.

December 9, 2012

Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Helps Rescue Animals from Hurricane Sandy and Other Disasters

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Dec. 5, 2012-The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) recently provided $250,000 to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), whose animal rescue team was among the first to help save hundreds of animals after Hurricane Sandy.

In addition to providing immediate supplies to help equip a disaster response trailer, the DWCF grant will also help IFAW to plan for the future by providing resources for future response efforts, as well as training sessions for disaster preparedness globally.

According to rescue team members, families affected by the storm were concerned about the welfare of the pets they had to leave behind and were relieved to know that organizations like IFAW were working to ensure that their animals would be safe.

Funding for this DWCF grant was provided by Disney Friends for Change, which contributed the proceeds from the iTunes downloads of various songs including "Rise" and "Send it On." Guests at Disney Parks and Resorts also help support the DWCF through contributions made at various parks and resorts and even while sailing with Disney Cruise Line. These contributions as well as the proceeds from various programs, tours and merchandise are all directed to the DWCF annual conservation grants program to help engage people and protect wildlife around the world. Disney matches guest contributions and covers all administrative costs.

This year the DWCF celebrated a $20 million milestone of giving through its various programs to support the study of wildlife, the protection of habitats and the development of community conservation and education programs in critical ecosystems around the world.

The DWCF has supported IFAW's efforts for more than 10 years, including the rescue of 20,000 endangered penguins from an oil spill in South Africa in 2000, and support for the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and the Haiti earthquake.

November 20, 2012

IFAW Receives $250,000 Grant from Disney to Help Rescue Animals from Natural Disasters and Emergencies

YARMOUTH PORT, Mass.,/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org) announced today a $250,000 grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to support IFAW's efforts to rescue animals from disasters, and to assist IFAW and its partners to prepare their rescue personnel for emergencies.

"Disney has been a committed supporter in IFAW's mission to make the world better for animals," said Ian Robinson, IFAW Animal Rescue Director. "We look forward to continuing to work together and going wherever we are needed to help suffering animals."

For well over a decade, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) has provided grants to help IFAW rescue and care for the animal victims of disasters, including after Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, the Asian tsunami and Haiti earthquake. Disney's support has helped the nonprofit protect animals big and small -- from elephants and tigers to household pets.

"After a devastating storm like Hurricane Sandy, communities are faced with a shortage of resources," said Kim Sams, director of the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. "We are proud to support IFAW, and know that animals affected by such disasters are receiving care from the compassionate staff while impacted neighborhoods can focus on rebuilding."

IFAW is a first responder for animals in distress in times of disasters. Its animal rescue team is currently deployed in New Jersey, helping to reunite families with the pets they were forced to leave behind because of Hurricane Sandy.

October 12, 2012

Disney Animal Keeper Combines Art and Care to Help Endangered Rhino Species

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Oct. 5, 2012 - As a rhinoceros keeper at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Chad Harmon tends to some of the toughest, strongest animals on the planet. He recently channeled that passion into an arts auction that raised approximately $6000 for the endangered animals.

For the Horns to Heroes project, Harmon used one of the rhinos he cares for as a model to make 40 horns by hand using a process known as rotational casting. The pieces are made of foam-filled resin and stand 16 inches tall and 7 inches wide.

He then recruited Central Florida painters, tattoo artists, sculptors, graffiti artists, illustrators, photographers and special-effects artists to create original and unique works of art. Each one was auctioned off with proceeds benefitting the International Rhino Foundation which funds research programs and helps protect threatened rhino populations in Africa and Asia.

"By supporting the International Rhino Foundation, The Horns and Heroes Project will help fund programs that support the courageous and dedicated rangers who risk their lives to stop poaching and give rhinos a chance at survival," said Harmon. "We're hoping that these works of art will help spark more conversation about how to protect these species."

Though at one time there were 30 living species of rhino, only five species remain today, and those populations are facing the severe threat of extinction. Without immediate action, some rhinos could be extinct within the next 20 years, due to poaching, forest loss, habitat conversion and encroaching human settlements.

Disney's Animal Kingdom currently includes a herd of white rhinos. Since the park opened in 1998, nine rhinos have been born at Disney's Animal Kingdom as part of a white rhino breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The program focuses on sustaining the white rhino population in North America.

September 18, 2012

Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Announces 2012 Grant Recipients

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Sept.18 - The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) released its 2012 annual grants, awarding more than $1.8 million to 75 conservation projects around the globe including $130,000 to Florida based projects.

Since its beginnings in 1995 DWCF has donated nearly $4 million benefiting 257 programs from 59 organizations in Florida. This year, six projects supporting the conservation of Florida wildlife were selected, including:

--The Sea Turtle Conservancy
--The University of Florida
--Marine Resources Council of East Florida
--The Wildlife Foundation of Florida
--The Coral Restoration Foundation
--The Ecostudies Institute

"Disney's commitment to protect the planet and help create connections between kids and nature around the world in 40 countries is amazing," said Dr. Beth Stevens, Senior Vice President, Disney Corporate Citizenship, Environment & Conservation. "We are grateful to the many scientists, educators and community conservationists who devote their lives to conservation and are very proud to work with our guests, fans, employees and cast members to help ensure a better future for our planet."

Through its grants program, DWCF is helping to preserve habitats, protect endangered species, foster kids' connections to nature and ensure future generations can enjoy wildlife and wild places.

Highlights of the six Florida-based projects include:

--The Coral Restoration Foundation has developed a project dedicated to restoring coral reefs in the Florida Keys through an offshore nursery.
--The Sea Turtle Conservancy combines educational workshops with hands-on activities, to encourage awareness of a vital sea turtle nesting site located on Florida's East Coast.
--The Ecostudies Institute has designed a program to raise awareness about the ecosystems in South Florida and promote the conservation of the Mangrove Cuckoo, a species whose populations have shrunk by up to 95% in recent years.
--The Wildlife Foundation of Florida explores water temperatures in Florida to determine the best habitat-rebuilding sight to promote manatee recovery.

Globally, DWCF has awarded $20 million to support conservation programs in 112 countries on six continents since 1995. For a complete list of grant recipients and to view The Walt Disney Company's most recent Conservation Report, visit www.disney.com/conservation

September 6, 2012

Manatee Day at Epcot Helps Educate Guests

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Sept. 6, 2012 - In ancient days, sailors may have mistaken manatees for mermaids, but many Epcot guests won't be making that same mistake after visiting The Seas with Nemo and Friends during International Manatee Day on Sept. 7.

The one-day event is designed to help dispel myths about these endangered marine mammals and offer ways to better protect them. Belonging to a group of aquatic, plant-eating mammals called sirenians, manatees can only be found in a few places, including Florida, South America, Africa, and Australia. With only 5,000 manatees located around the state, they are considered an endangered species in Florida.

As a designated rehabilitation site for rescued manatees and sea turtles, the Seas with Nemo and Friends serves as a "halfway house" working with the manatees after they are out of "intensive care" to ensure they resume a normal diet and are ready to return to the wild.

A team of marine mammal experts at The Seas is currently caring for two manatees - Lou and Vail. Both were injured during separate watercraft strikes and will remain in the facility until they are well enough to be returned to their habitats.

Simple actions can help protect them. For example, recycling used fishing line and plastic bottles will help keep waterways where manatees live, clean and healthy.

August 13, 2012

Cotton-top Tamarins celebrated throughout August

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Aug. 3, 2012 - While lions may be known as the king of the jungle, a tiny, one-pound monkey will have top billing at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Throughout the month of August, guests will be invited to join in activities centered around the cotton-top tamarin, a critically endangered primate from northern Colombia.

August 15th, is the official Day of the Cotton-top Tamarin in Colombia so we've created a celebration for our guests to enjoy. Get ready to participate in a variety of activities from learning how scientists track tamarins in the forest, what cotton-tops like to eat, and how people in Colombia are helping to recycling plastic bags into amazing tote bags called eco-mochilas. But a cotton-top tamarin celebration wouldn't be complete unless you learned the cotton-top tamarin dance and enjoyed a tasty cotton-top tamarin cupcake.

Sometimes called the "punk rock primates" because of their wild manes of white hair that outline their black faces, their numbers are dwindling because of habitat loss and the pet trade. Because of efforts by Dr. Anne Savage, Conservation Director for Disney's Animal Programs and other conservationists, the cotton-top tamarin has been added to the critically endangered species list, giving them international protection from the federal government to prohibit them from being hunted or captured.

"We created this celebration as a way to highlight the effects that humans have on natural habitats," said Anne. "Conservation celebrations are important because it helps people of all ages understand and appreciate these amazing animals and learn what it takes to protect them for future generations."

Guests can see cotton-tops in Discovery Island in a habitat in front of the Tree of Life and also at Rafiki's Planet Watch in Habitat Habit!, a fun and educational wildlife trail between the Wildlife Express Train and Conservation Station. Cotton-tops have been on exhibit at Disney's Animal Kingdom since 1998 and serve as ambassadors for the species so that guests can better understand the importance of conservation efforts to help protect them.

July 20, 2012

Disney Sponsored Turtles Compete in Annual Marathon

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.- Fans at Disney's Vero Beach Resort will be able to cheer on "Peach" and "Pearl" as the two loggerhead sea turtles return to the Atlantic Ocean to compete in the annual Turtles Migration Marathon.

Named after characters from the Disney-Pixar movie Finding Nemo, Peach and Pearl are competing in the "Tour de Turtles: A Sea Turtle Migration Marathon" hosted by the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC) on July 28.

Peach is sponsored by Disney's Animal Programs and Disney's Vero Beach Resort, and Pearl is sponsored by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and Disney's Friends for Change. Joining them in the "marathon race" will be 12 other turtles starting at various locations. As all 14 turtles travel from their nesting sites to unknown feeding grounds, researchers will track them by satellite technology gathering vital information that will help conservationists and governing agencies make informed decisions about conservation methods and policies.

The turtle that swims the furthest distance will be named the winner. Audiences worldwide will be able to view the sea turtles' progress online at www.tourdeturtles.org and watch the marathon unfold.

"The marathon is important on the larger level because the CCC shares information with the National Marine Fishery Services which controls where people fish", said Anne Savage, Conservation Director of Walt Disney World Programs. "This will help determine where turtles swim in relation to where boats are, and to use that information to regulate the amount of time that people stay in those areas keeping the turtles out of danger."

During the marathon, each turtle will represent a "cause or threat" to their survival. Pearl's mission is to raise awareness on the entanglement effects caused by pollution, fishing lines and fishing nets. Peach's mission is to raise awareness on the effect of light pollution. Since sea turtle hatchlings rely on moonlight to find their way to the ocean, many become disoriented and drawn off-course by artificial light sources.

Among the oldest creatures on earth, sea turtles have remained essentially unchanged for the past 110 million years. In the United States, as much as 90 percent of sea turtle nesting occurs in Florida, which serves as home base for several species of endangered and threatened sea turtles. With as few as one out of 1,000 hatchlings surviving to adulthood, conservation efforts must focus on combating human-caused threats through education and research.

June 27, 2012

Okapi Baby Born at Disney's Animal Kingdom

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The cast at Disney's Animal Kingdom is happy to announce that late last week -- on June 21 -- they welcomed a new okapi calf to the family. The female calf has been named Nafuna, an African name meaning "delivered feet first."

First-time mom Zawadi and the calf, who weighed 35 pounds at birth, are doing very well and are being monitored closely by the animal care team in their backstage home at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The calf's dad, Akili, lives at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, where guests also can see okapi on the resort's savanna.

Guests will have two opportunities to catch a glimpse of the okapi calf a couple of months from now, when she goes out in the park's Ituri Forest. Guests can see okapi when they ride the Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition and when they travel the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.

In the wild, the okapi is considered rare, and they are threatened by habitat loss due to logging and human settlement, as well as by hunting.

Okapi fun facts:

-- The okapi's stripes work as camouflage when hiding in the partial sunlight that filters through the forest canopy.
-- Okapi are typically solitary animals, living alone or in mother-offspring pairs. They are extremely wary and secretive, making okapi very difficult to observe in the lowland rainforest of central Africa where they make their home.
-- The okapi's gestation period is about 14 months.
-- Adult okapi can reach weights of 550-720 pounds, with females typically being larger than males. They can live over 30 years in zoological facilities.
-- Normally silent, female okapi vocalize with a soft "chuff" during courtship and when calling to their calves. There are infrasonic qualities to their call, which are below the frequency that the human ear can pick up.

Disney Named Conservationist of the Year by Wildlife Federation

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., - The Florida Wildlife Federation recently highlighted the efforts of the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) naming it "Corporate Conservationist of the Year" during its annual awards ceremony.

"The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund was chosen because of the very generous grants and remarkable efforts to support conservation projects, protect endangered species and conduct research in the field of conservation," said Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation. The Florida Wildlife Federation promotes the conservation, restoration, sound management and wise use of Florida's natural resources.

Through its grants program, the DWCF provides financial aid for the study of wildlife, the protection of habitats and the development of community conservation and education programs in critical ecosystems around the world. In 2011, DWCF donated $20 million to support nearly 100 conservation projects from all over the world, including:

-- The Jane Goodall Institute's "Release of Wild Born Mandrills" back into the wild in the Republic of Congo
-- The Nature Conservancy's "Establishment of the New Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Population" in Florida
-- The World Wildlife Fund's "Chimpanzee Conservation Goes to School"
-- National Audubon Society's "Shorebird Conservation in The Bahamas"

In Florida, the DWCF has donated nearly $4 million to support 257 programs and 59 organizations. Some of the local initiatives include:

-- The Coral Restoration Foundation- The Coral Restoration Foundation is designed to help restore and expand the coral reefs not only of the Florida Keys region, but to the entire ocean.
-- Aiding Sea Turtle Conservation II- Sea Turtle Conservation monitors nursery habitats and movement patterns of green sea turtle hatchlings as they leave the Florida coast
-- Adopt-a-Turtle Nest- At Disney's Vero Beach Resort, Disney's Animal Kingdom (Conservation Center), and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Disney's Epcot, guests are able to purchase an adoption package including a nest's tracking number. Proceeds from the program benefit turtle and beach conservation efforts throughout the state of Florida.
-- Restoring the Everglades ecosystems (Audubon of Florida) - To restore the Everglade ecosystems, wetland drainage, development and flood control are the key concerns.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is funded by Disney, which has committed to more than match guest contributions and cover all administrative costs. Guests help to support the fund in a variety of ways, from adding a dollar or more to their purchases of food and gifts at Disney's Animal Kingdom and select resorts to purchasing reusable shopping bags and other items and at Walt Disney World Resort.

To learn more about the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund visit www.disney.com/conservation or email: Corp.Conservation@Disney.com

April 13, 2012

Disney Kids and Nature Celebration at Walt Disney World Resort

DISNEY CHANNEL STARS JOIN YOUTH LEADERS
FOR DISNEY KIDS AND NATURE CELEBRATION
AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT

-- Two-Day Celebration Includes Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Awards Ceremony, World Premiere of Disneynature's "Chimpanzee" and Disney's Friends for Change Youth Summit

-- Hollywood Records' McClain Sisters to Perform "Rise," This Year's
Disney Friends for Change Anthem, at Event

Disney Channel stars Debby Ryan ("Jessie"), Bella Thorne and Zendaya ("Shake It Up"), Ross Lynch and Laura Marano ("Austin & Ally") will join more than 100 youth leaders from around the world for the Disney Kids and Nature Celebration April 13-14 at the Walt Disney World Resort. The two-day celebration recognizes youth efforts to help protect the planet and organizations that work to connect kids to nature.

The celebration begins Friday, April13 with remarks by Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Robert A. Iger at the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Awards Ceremony. The event honors five organizations for their efforts to create experiences and opportunities for kids to connect with nature. They are: Children and Nature Network, Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and Youth Service of America.

At the ceremony, Hollywood Records' McClain Sisters will perform their hit song "Rise," this year's Disney Friends for Change anthem, as featured in Disneynature's "Chimpanzee." The film will make its world premiere later that day.

As part of the weekend, Disney Channel stars will participate in workshops and discussions, alongside kids, during Disney Friends for Change Youth Summit.

On Saturday, April14, Disney Channel stars will help galvanize kids to make a difference during Disney's Friends for Change Youth Summit, a day-long event designed to inspire kids to think of creative ideas and solutions that generate positive change in the world. Through a series of panels, workshops and discussions, youth leaders, between the ages of 10-18, are encouraged to imagine their planet's future and discuss conservation efforts in order to return home with new ideas to put into action in their own communities. Radio Disney's lead on air personality Ernie D will host the event.

Activities include:

Friends for Change's Disney Planet Challenge Ceremony --
Ross Lynch and Laura Marano will recognize the grand prize winners of Disney's Planet Challenge, a national project-based environmental science competition for 3rd-8th grade students and the in-school edition of Friends for Change.

Inspiring and Adventurous Careers Panel --
Kids will engage with key Disney leaders whose careers merge creativity with stewardship of the planet.

Send Your Message On Workshop --
Youth participants will learn what it takes to reach audiences, encourage people to take action for the planet, and workshop the best practices for sharing messages through social media. Kids will come up with creative ways to tell their story in two minutes. Debby Ryan, Bella Thorne and Zendaya, Ross Lynch and Laura Marano will rotate through groups to help kids create their own messages.

Imagine Our Planet Youth Discussion --
Youth leaders will facilitate small-group discussions about what each participant plans to do once they return home. Students will present their "Conservation Charters." Debby Ryan, Bella Thorne and Zendaya, Ross Lynch and Laura Marano will divide among teams to help develop action plans.

Disney's Friends for Change is a multi-platform initiative that inspires kids and families to join together and make a positive impact on their world by helping people, communities and the planet. Activities are united by an overarching emphasis on fostering creativity, conservation and compassion. Through on-air PSAs and online action kits, the program provides useful resources to encourage kids to make small changes that add up to big differences. To date, Friends for Change kids in 33 countries around the world have taken almost five million actions, and $4.5 million dollars has been awarded to nonprofits with Friends for Change projects. For more information, please visit Disney.com/friends.

April 8, 2012

Party for the Planet – Including Chimpanzees – in Celebration of Earth Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom is hosting a Party for the Planet in celebration of Earth Day. Guests can find out what they can do to make their backyards wildlife-friendly and discover other ways to conserve wildlife and protect nature, including chimpanzees, in celebration of the release of "Chimpanzee," Disneynature's newest True Life Adventure.

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Full-park festivities will take place on the first and last days of the celebration, April 13 and 22 (Earth Day). As guests enter the park, they can get the party started at two table displays in the main entrance area: one featuring wildlife-friendly backyard habitats and the other "Chimpanzee."

Activities in the park include:

Asia (Maharajah Jungle Trek)-Families can play a supermarket game and learn how their purchases can make a big difference for wildlife and wild places.

Africa (Pangani Forest Exploration Trail)-Children can observe and identify chimpanzee tracks and clues left behind along trails as they move through the forest.

Rafiki's Planet Watch, courtyard-Outside Conservation Station, guests will discover fun ways to spend time in nature with their families and find "Chimpanzee"-related merchandise, as well as face painters and caricature artists.

Rafiki's Planet Watch, inside Conservation Station-Families can visit the Chimpanzee Research Station and participate in a variety of activities based on real conservation work. Guests also can talk with cast members who work on conservation projects around the world and learn about the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

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Although the full-park festivities take place April 13 and 22, there will be lots for guests visiting April 13 through April 22 to see and do:

Outside the theme park's main entrance, a sand sculpture and display will celebrate the "Chimpanzee' film.

Families can visit the Chimpanzee Research Station inside Conservation Station.

Guests can visit with special artisans in Discovery Island.

Fun Facts:

Although we don't have chimpanzees at Disney's Animal Kingdom, we do have many other fascinating primates, including gorillas, siamangs, white-cheeked gibbons, colobus monkeys, cotton-top tamarins and lemurs.

Disneynature joined forces with the Jane Goodall Institute for a special "See 'Chimpanzee,' Save Chimpanzees" program. For every moviegoer who sees "Chimpanzee" during the film's opening week (April 20-26, 2012), Disneynature will make a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund in order to protect chimpanzees and their habitats.

Walt Disney was a pioneer in wildlife documentary filmmaking, producing 13 True Life Adventure motion pictures between 1948 and 1960, including "Seal Island" (1948), "Beaver Valley" (1950), "The Living Desert" (1953) and "Jungle Cat" (1958). The films earned eight Academy Awards®.

Upcoming 2012 wildlife conservation events at Disney's Animal Kingdom (as always, dates subject to change):

May 12: International Migratory Bird Day
May 23: World Turtle Day
June 6: Pollinator Day
August: Cotton-Top Tamarin Month
Sept. 5: International Vulture Awareness Day
Sept. 26: Elephant Awareness Day
Oct. 31: Bat Day

January 2, 2012

See CHIMPANZEE, Save Chimpanzees

Disneynature Will Donate Portion of First Week Box Office for "CHIMPANZEE" to the Jane Goodall Institute Through "See 'CHIMPANZEE,' Save Chimpanzees" Program

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Disneynature celebrates the April 20, 2012, theatrical release of the incredible new True-Life Adventure, CHIMPANZEE, by joining forces with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) for a special "See CHIMPANZEE, Save Chimpanzees" program. For every moviegoer who sees CHIMPANZEE during the film's opening week (April 20-26, 2012), Disneynature will make a donation to JGI through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund in order to protect chimpanzees and their habitats, now and into the future.

CHIMPANZEE, directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, the award-winning team responsible for the acclaimed nature film EARTH, utilizes extraordinary, never-before-seen footage to introduce moviegoers to Oscar, an adorable young chimp, and his primate family living in the heart of the African forest.

"We are very excited to bring the story of Oscar and his chimpanzee family to the big screen. CHIMPANZEE showcases the incredible personalities and heartwarming relationships of these amazing animals," said Alan Bergman, president, The Walt Disney Studios. "As part of our company's ongoing efforts to protect the environment and empower audiences to participate in global conservation, Disneynature is proud to join with the Jane Goodall Institute in its efforts to secure a future for chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo."

"The Jane Goodall Institute is proud to work so closely with Disneynature on the release of CHIMPANZEE," said Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace. "JGI has been working in Africa for almost 35 years following on from my research begun in 1960. We are thrilled to extend our impact and efforts through this collaboration to support and celebrate such a wonderful film. Together, we can truly make a difference and are thrilled to have Disneynature join our efforts to protect chimpanzee habitats, care for orphaned chimpanzees in the Republic of Congo and educate a new generation of young people and connect them to nature."

The film opens in North America on April 20, 2012. Tickets for groups of 20 or more are already available by calling 1-888-DISNEY6.

ABOUT THE MOVIE

Disneynature takes moviegoers deep into the forests of Africa with CHIMPANZEE, a new True-Life Adventure that introduces an adorable young chimp named Oscar and his entertaining approach to life in a remarkable story of family bonds and individual triumph. Oscar's playful curiosity and zest for discovery showcase the intelligence and ingenuity of some of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom. The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimps, who'd rather make mayhem than join their parents for an afternoon nap. But when Oscar's family is confronted by a rival community of chimps, he is left to fend for himself until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever. Working together, Oscar's chimpanzee family - including his mom, Isha, and the group's savvy leader, Freddy - navigates the complex territory of the forest. Directed by Alastair Fothergill ("African Cats" and "Earth") and Mark Linfield ("EARTH"), CHIMPANZEE swings into theaters on Earth Day 2012. For more information about the movie and the "See CHIMPANZEE, Save Chimpanzees" initiative, check out Disney.com/chimpanzee.

October 28, 2011

Disney Animal Programs Gives "Creatures of the Night" Special Treats for Halloween

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., (Oct. 28, 2011) - As Halloween approaches, several creatures of the night are getting a series of treats from a team of medical experts at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Around this time each year, veterinary care specialists conduct annual wellness checks on a roost of endangered bats as part of Disney's commitment to excellent animal care.

The bats, known as Malayan flying foxes, receive complete physical examinations, including blood analysis, vaccination and dental cleaning in front of thousands of Guests who view the procedures from a large, on-stage window into a state-of-the art veterinary hospital. With a wingspan close to six feet, the Malayan flying fox is one of the largest bats in the world and can be seen on exhibit along the Maharajah Jungle Trek in the Asia section of the theme park.

"Guests are always fascinated with the amount of care provided to our animals," said veterinarian Dr. Mark Stetter, director of animal health for Disney's Animal Programs. "During this time of year, when there's an increased interest in bats, we have a perfect opportunity to dispel some of the myths about bats and explain the important role bats play in the eco-system."

Malayan flying foxes are mammals that eat and rest in trees and roost at dawn. As fruit-eating animals, bats assist in pollination and seed dispersal for a great variety of plants that are useful for lumber, food, medicine and other products. Bats are also helpful around the neighborhood where they eat mosquitoes and other bugs.

In addition to receiving annual exams, the male bats at Disney's Animal Kingdom voluntarily cooperate in their own medical care, making veterinary treatment much easier and safer. Through training, bats willingly allow themselves to be weighed, spread their wings for inspection, or open their mouths for dental evaluations. The intent is to help the animals become comfortable with husbandry practices that help monitor their well-being.

About Malayan Flying Fox

Flying foxes have long, sharp, curved claws on their toes, which allow them to hang effortlessly upside-down in trees. The skin between the fingers is smooth and strong while the rest of the bat's body is covered with soft fur. As the name suggests, the head resembles that of a small fox because of the small ears, long snout and large eyes.

Unlike most other warm-blooded animals, bats maintain a warm body temperature only when active. While sleeping during the day, their body temperature drops to the temperature of the air around them. In warmer temperatures, bats cool themselves by fanning their wings, licking their chest and wings, and by panting. When flying, legs work in unison with the wings, somewhat like swimming through the air.

Bat Facts:

Bats are the only mammals that fly. Other mammals may glide through the air, but bats flap their wings and fly.
The life span of a bat is about 20 years.
Females of a colony give birth during a specific season, although the peak varies geographically. Most births occur in May and June.
Gestation takes about 180 days, and usually a single pup of around 133 grams is born. Twins are rare.
The young nurse for two to three months. The mothers carry their young for the first few days; then, the bats are left in the roost tree while the mothers forage for food.
Sexual maturity is attained in 18-24 months.
For the first few days, the mothers carry their young while they forage for food. Soon, though, the young bats are left behind during these hunts for food.

October 7, 2011

Chimpanzees Receive Emergency Support from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund

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The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is responding immediately to needs of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance to protect endangered chimpanzees in Africa.

The Jane Goodall Institute was awarded $5,000 for veterinary supplies to vaccinate chimpanzees and staff against a dangerous measles outbreak at the Tchimpounga Sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Chimpanzees are highly susceptible to human diseases, and the high cost of vaccines for 146 chimpanzees and 60 staff members jeopardized the team's ability to cope with future medical emergencies.

The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) was also awarded $3,000 to assist in the relocation of four orphaned chimpanzees confiscated from smugglers in Sudan. The chimpanzees, Cocoa, Minni, Sarah, and Medina, are all orphans of bushmeat trade and are believed to have been smuggled from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are too young to be able to care for themselves but Minni and the others are adjusting well to their new sanctuary home in Uganda. DWCF helped cover the cost of air travel to relocate the chimpanzees from Sudan to Uganda.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Rapid Response Fund provides emergency funding to wildlife and wild places in the aftermath of disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and disease outbreaks. Since the beginning of 2011, DWCF has contributed more than $40,000 to emergency relief efforts worldwide including repairing an educational walkway damaged in a storm in Zimbabwe to allow for continued youth conservation education efforts, and supporting the needs of the International Primatological Society and Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums following the devastating earthquake in Japan. The funding for these emergency grants has been provided through a partnership with Disney's Friends for Change and iTunes, thanks to several anthems created by stars from the Disney Channel. Coinciding with the premiere of the most recent song by Bridgit Mendler, "We can Change the World," Disney contributed $250,000 to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to help the planet when it needs it most.

July 26, 2011

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates White Rhino Birth in Uganda

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., July 20, 2011 - Nande, a 12-year-old female white rhino born at Disney's Animal Kingdom, gave birth June 4 to a healthy female calf at the Ziwa Sanctuary in Uganda. The baby, named Malaika ("angel" in Swahili), is the first female white rhino born in Uganda in more than 30 years.

Animal care experts from the Rhino Fund Uganda team have been closely monitoring Nande and Malaika as they bond. Nande is a second-time mother. She gave birth to her first baby, a male calf, in 2009.

Nande is one of two white rhinos born at Disney's Animal Kingdom that traveled to Africa in 2006 as part of the first-ever reintroduction of white rhinos from the United States to Uganda. She was accompanied by Hasani, a male, also born at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and joined four other white rhinos at the Ziwa Sanctuary to help re-establish a white rhino population that has been extinct in Uganda since 1982 as a casualty of civil unrest in the region. Nande was born in 1999, and Hasani was born in 2001. Guests can see both white and black rhinos on the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction.

Disney's commitment to conservation and rhinos goes beyond this first-ever rhino transfer. The Walt Disney Company Foundation and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund have supported more than $940,000 in rhino protection and research projects in partnership with non-profit organizations throughout the world.

Disney's Animal Kingdom is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and a link to helping animals in their native habitats.

May 24, 2011

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Marks 10 Years of Conservation Leadership

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., May 17, 2011 - While guests may visit Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge to experience the more than 200 animals from 30 different species roaming across 46 lush acres, the generosity of those guests has also funded conservation projects that extend far beyond the savannahs of the resort hotel.

Since Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge opened its doors ten years ago, the merchandise shops at the resort hotel have cumulatively raised $385,000 in donations from guests for the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF), more than any other resort location.

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund was established on Earth Day in 1995 as a global awards program for the study and protection of the world's wildlife and ecosystems. It provides annual awards to U.S. nonprofit conservation organizations working alongside their peers in other countries. Many of the recipient organizations concentrate their activities on "biological hotspots" - areas rich in plant and animal life at risk of imminent destruction.

The DWCF mission resonates with guests who visit Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, now a AAA Four-Diamond rated resort hotel that was designed with environmentally-conscious guests in mind.

"Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge demonstrates the importance of understanding our guests," said Kevin Myers, vice president of resort operations at Walt Disney World Resort. "We knew when we built Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, there was a segment of guests with a passion for the environment who would want to stay in a resort hotel whose design focused on animals, culture and conservation in addition to having amenities traditionally associated with a deluxe hotel."

Funds raised from guests at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge have gone toward important DWCF efforts around the world, from protecting lions in Africa to projects closer to home, including efforts to protect the Northern Jaguar in Mexico and last year's rapid response grants to rehabilitate thousands of sea turtles along Florida's Gulf Coast that were affected by a winter cold snap.

Myers points out that a commitment to conservation and the environment extends to each of the 24 resort hotels Walt Disney World Resort. All are certified Green Lodges by the Florida Green Lodging Program.

That commitment to the environment in lodging and the especially strong conservation themes that run through Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge are all part of an environmental legacy handed down by Walt Disney himself.

In fact, during the grand opening ceremonies for Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge ten years ago, the late Roy E. Disney remarked, "They [Walt Disney and Roy O. Disney] would have been thrilled with what has been created here and would have thought it a wonderfully appropriate addition to their company."

May 3, 2011

MOVIEGOERS OF DISNEYNATURE’S TRUE LIFE ADVENTURE “AFRICAN CATS” HELP SAVE THE SAVANNA

Disneynature Collaborates with the African Wildlife Foundation to Help Protect 50,000 Acres in Kenya's Amboseli Wildlife Corridor

BURBANK, Calif. (May 2, 2011) - Disneynature announced today that its "See 'African Cats,' Save the Savanna" campaign will help protect more than 50,000 acres of land in Kenya's Amboseli Wildlife Corridor on behalf of the moviegoers who came out to see Disneynature's motion picture "African Cats" during its opening week (April 22-28, 2011). A portion of the proceeds from the opening-week ticket sales will be donated to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to ensure the future of lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, giraffes and a host of other animals in the vibrant African savanna.

The area to be protected equates to 100 Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Parks or more than twice the size of Manhattan. The AWF will be working to establish the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor, a passage between the Amboseli, Tsavo West and Chyulu Hills National Parks that is frequently used by a variety of wildlife.

"We're so proud that audiences nationwide have embraced the film and the 'See "African Cats," Save the Savanna' initiative," said Alan Bergman, president of The Walt Disney Studios. "The conservation efforts Disneynature has supported so far span the globe-from planting trees in Brazil, to preserving coral reef in The Bahamas and now protecting this essential passage in Kenya-they've become an extraordinary part of our films and audiences have played a key role in helping our planet."

"The 'See "African Cats," Save the Savanna' program transformed the moviegoing experience into tangible on-the-ground conservation action," said Dr. Patrick Bergin, CEO, African Wildlife Foundation. "The commitment of Disneynature combined with the passion of moviegoers will raise critical funds to conserve the land that the magnificent species featured in "African Cats" call home. Through this amazing collaboration, we celebrate our 50th Anniversary together with Disneynature and all the people who are helping establish the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor."

While the opening-week ticket sales will help protect more than 50,000 acres of the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor, the conservation efforts tied to "African Cats" do not end there. Additional collaborations are committed to adding at least another 15,000 acres to the program-from the sale of artwork and jewelry inspired by the film, to the sale of Jordin Sparks' "The World I Knew" single, to the Cast Member Earth Month pledges across the Walt Disney Company, plus more. These programs, many of them ongoing, support the "Save the Savanna" initiative, which will have a positive long term and sustainable impact on the animals and people of Africa.

"See 'African Cats,' Save the Savanna" continues Disneynature's conservation efforts, which began with its first release, "Earth" (2009), for which three million trees were planted in Brazil's Atlantic Forest. The program in support of "Oceans" (2010) helped establish 40,000 acres of marine protected areas in The Bahamas, which contain miles of vital coral reef. "African Cats" is in theaters now.

ABOUT THE MOVIE
An epic true story set against the backdrop of one of the wildest places on Earth, "African Cats" captures the real-life love, humor and determination of the majestic kings of the savanna. Narrated by Oscar®-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson, the story features Mara, an endearing lion cub who strives to grow up with her mother's strength, spirit and wisdom; Sita, a fearless cheetah and single mother of five mischievous newborns; and Fang, a proud leader of the pride who must defend his family from a rival lion and his sons. Disneynature brings "The Lion King" to life on the big screen in this True Life Adventure directed by Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill ("Earth"). An awe-inspiring adventure blending family bonds with the power and cunning of the wild, "African Cats" leapt into theatres on Earth Day, April 22, 2011. For more information about the movie and the "See 'African Cats,' Save the Savanna" initiative, check out Disney.com/AfricanCats.

March 21, 2011

Manatees Receive Expert Care at The Seas with Nemo & Friends

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 21, 2011 - Jasper and Vail may sound like two western United States vacation spots, but they're actually the names of two manatees at Walt Disney World Resort. Both male manatees were brought to Epcot for rehabilitative care provided by marine mammal experts at The Seas with Nemo & Friends.

With approximately 5,000 endangered manatees in Florida, Disney's Animal Programs has emerged as a leader in the rehabilitation of endangered marine species, including sea turtles and manatees. Since 2001, Disney Animal Programs has been involved with the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP). The MRP is a cooperative group of nonprofit, private, state and federal entities that monitors the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees.

"Typically, The Seas serves as a 'halfway house' for manatees after they are out of 'intensive care,'" according to Jane Davis, curator at The Seas. "The team of veterinarians and husbandry cast members works with manatees to ensure they are healthy, resume a normal diet and are ready to return to the wild."

After receiving care for the past year, Jasper was released back to his natural habitat in the warm waters of the Indian River Lagoon on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Jasper has been adapting well and has reportedly integrated well with a group of 30 other manatees.

Not coincidentally, Jasper's release opened up a spot for another rescued manatee in need of care. Disney's marine mammal team is currently working to rehabilitate Vail, who was injured nearly 15 years ago from a watercraft strike. As a result of the accident, the male manatee is missing a portion of his tail paddle. Vail apparently wasted no time in getting comfortable in his new setting. Within a few hours of his arrival, he had eaten 10 heads of lettuce - a healthy meal for a manatee.

While the care associated with manatee rehabilitation at The Seas with Nemo & Friends was provided by Disney, Epcot guests have also helped other manatees in the wild by supporting the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). The DWCF has contributed more than $348,000 for manatee research and awareness around the globe. Since its inception in 1995, the DWCF has supported manatee research and community conservation in countries including the United States, Belize, Guatemala and Gabon, and worked with organizations including Mote Marine Laboratory, University of Florida and the Wildlife Trust.

February 21, 2011

Baby Gorilla Reaches Milestone

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Feb. 18, 2011 -- At Disney's Animal Kingdom, a very rare gorilla named Lilly is about to reach a monumental milestone - her first birthday. And while birthdays in the animal world are not typically marked on a calendar, Lilly's first year has been historic.

Since she was born last Feb. 19, animal care experts around the globe have been keeping a watchful eye on Lilly's development. Within weeks after her birth, Disney's animal care team noticed she was different. She was much smaller than other gorillas her age and was not meeting typical behavioral milestones, such as grasping, rolling over and crawling. In addition, Lilly's mother Kashata seemed to be holding the endangered western lowland gorilla longer than normal.

Puzzled, the team scoured medical journals and found no reports of similar cases. After consulting with external medical and pediatric experts, they conducted a series of tests to rule out possible causes, such as vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disorders and liver abnormalities. While the exact cause of her condition is still unknown, animal care experts believe she may have a developmental delay that affects her nerve and muscle cells. Without similar documented case studies in veterinary literature, the team realized that they had to pioneer new protocols in animal care and shifted their emphasis to treatment.

Each day, a team of animal keepers engages Lilly in what appears to be a form of play, but is actually a form of structured therapy. They encourage her to climb, roll over and grasp objects, including food and toys, all in an effort to strengthen her muscles and spark her curiosity. Since September, the team has noted a marked difference in the young primate. She now weighs 13 pounds - three pounds more than she did in November, and she appears much more active and social among her family grouping.

"We are committed to providing all our animals with the best care," according to veterinarian Mark Stetter, D.V.M. "In Lilly's case, we are encouraged by the progress in her stamina, strength and dexterity. But since there are no other documented cases like her, we are continuing to monitor her closely."

Along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Disney guests are captivated by Lilly. They are in awe of her toddler-like curiosity and marvel watching the tender interaction between her and the other gorillas on exhibit, including her 450-pound father, Gino.

For Disney's Animal Programs team members, there's no better way to celebrate a baby's first birthday. "We are sharing the knowledge we're learning from Lilly among professionals in the medical and zoological communities to help improve care for animals in zoological habitats and conservation efforts in the wild," said Stetter.

August 17, 2010

Sea Turtles Continue On The Road To Recovery At Walt Disney World Resort

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Aug. 16, 2010 - All 32 sea turtles recently taken in by Walt Disney World Resort after being impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have completed their initial veterinary examinations and are responding well to treatment, say Disney animal care experts.

Among the sea turtles in recovery are Green Turtles, an endangered species, and Kemp's Ridley Turtles, one of the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world. The initial exams performed at the veterinary hospital at Disney's Animal Kingdom included x-rays, blood tests and a complete physical assessment.

"The animals are doing quite well," said Andy Deneault, an assistant curator responsible for the care of sea turtles at Disney's Animal Kingdom. "Once we received these animals, we immediately put them on a regimented diet to build their strength. We also keep the sea turtles in special shallow salt-water pools set up just for this effort."

With the ultimate goal of releasing the turtles back in the wild, Disney animal experts are focused on increasing the turtles' body weight so they have the strength to swim in the open ocean.

As a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, Disney Animal Programs supports the rescue and rehabilitation of more than 1,000 injured and orphaned wild animals each year. Since 1986, Disney animal care teams have nursed more than 250 endangered sea turtles back to health.

In addition, as part of the coordinated response to the Gulf oil spill, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF), supported by Disney's Friends for Change: Project Green, has donated $100,000 to help with environmental and animal rescue efforts, including $50,000 to The National Audubon Society for their response in the Gulf. Another $50,000 in grants from the DWCF Rapid Response Fund is being awarded to various grassroots organizations assisting with the cleanup.

July 31, 2010

Injured Sea Turtles from the Gulf Arrive for Care at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney donates $100,000 to help with rescue and environmental efforts in the Gulf

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., July 30, 2010 - Eight turtles injured by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico today began their rehabilitation at Walt Disney World Resort under the care of Disney animal experts.

Animal care experts from Disney's Animal Programs returned Thursday from the Florida Panhandle with six Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles - among the most endangered species of sea turtles in the world - and two Green Sea Turtles injured by the spill. The Disney animal care team stands ready to help in the Panhandle as needed and rehabilitation facilities at Disney's Animal Kingdom and at Epcot's The Seas with Nemo & Friends are available for treating turtles and birds impacted by the spill.

"Oil can have a devastating effect on the health of sea turtles, marine mammals and birds," said Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., vice president for Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives at Disney Parks. "Over the next several months, many of these animals will require intense medical treatment over a prolonged period. We want to be sure that we provide top-notch medical care wherever we can - whether it's on a beach or in a state-of-the-art veterinary facility. Ultimately, our goal is to re-release these animals so they can once again thrive in the wild of our oceans and coastline."

In addition, as part of the coordinated response to the spill, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF), supported by Disney's Friends for Change: Project Green, has donated $100,000 to help with environmental and animal rescue efforts, including $50,000 to The National Audubon Society for their response in the Gulf. Another $50,000 in grants from the DWCF Rapid Response Fund is being awarded to various grassroots organizations assisting with the cleanup.

As a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, Disney Animal Programs supports the rescue and rehabilitation of more than 1,000 injured and orphaned wild animals each year. For this current effort, engineers and water science experts have already converted a backstage area into a temporary rehabilitation facility - setting up salt-water pools capable of housing up to 35 sea turtles.

Since 1986, Disney animal care teams have nursed more than 250 endangered sea turtles back to health. Earlier this summer Disney animal experts began care for seven Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles diagnosed with pneumonia. The turtles were moved to Walt Disney World Resort from facilities in Mississippi to make room for animals injured by the oil spill.

Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund provides annual awards to nonprofit conservation organizations working alongside their peers here and in other countries. A special emergency fund also helps animals and people in times of environmental crisis.

July 10, 2010

Endangered Sea Turtles Thriving at Walt Disney World Resort

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., July 9, 2010 - Two ailing Kemp's Ridley sea turtles are on the road to recovery after being brought to Walt Disney World Resort last month from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss. to make room for animals directly impacted by the Gulf oil spill.

The sea turtles, suffering from pneumonia, were flown to Orlando June 25 and placed in the care of Disney animal experts. Kemp's Ridley turtles are among the most endangered species of sea turtles in the world. The two are being monitored in a special backstage area at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot and will require several months of rehabilitation before they are released back into the wild. Progress so far is favorable.

"They're doing very well," said Tom Hopkins, animal operations area director for Walt Disney World Resort. "One still has a touch of pneumonia but is doing much better. The other sea turtle is eating more and beginning to gain weight."

Animal experts at Walt Disney World Resort have extensive experience rehabilitating sea turtles. Since 1986, Disney animal care teams have nursed more than 250 endangered sea turtles back to health. Most recently, Disney animal experts cared for 15 green sea turtles injured from the cold weather snap that affected Florida earlier this year.

As a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, Disney's Animal Programs supports the rescue and rehabilitation of more than 1,000 injured and orphaned wild animals each year. The team participates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other zoological facilities and conservation groups in the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership. The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot is a designated rehabilitation site for rescued manatees and sea turtles until they are well enough to be returned to their habitats.

June 29, 2010

DISNEY WORLDWIDE CONSERVATION FUND ANNOUNCES 2010 GRANT RECIPIENTS

Nearly $1.5 million granted to conservation efforts around the world

BURBANK, Calif. (6/28/10) - Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has announced the 2010 recipients of nearly $1.5 million in grants to protect vulnerable wildlife and ecosystems around the world. The funding enables nonprofit organizations to provide support for more than 45 species across the globe-from protecting the critically endangered Sumatran rhino in Indonesia, to tracking northern jaguars in the foothills of Mexico, to studying the threats of the endangered green sea turtle.

"As part of Disney's longstanding commitment to the environment, the work supported through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is more important today than ever in helping preserve our planet's most precious resources," said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president, Environmental Affairs, The Walt Disney Company. "We are proud to support these organizations that are truly making a difference around the world to aid in the protection of wildlife and the natural environments they depend on to flourish."

Over the past decade, the DWCF-through support from The Walt Disney Company and Disney Guests-has provided more than $15 million in grants for the study of wildlife, protection of habitats, land management plans, community conservation and education. Along with a focus on support for species and habitat conservation science, the DWCF encourages programs that engage local residents and benefit both human and animal communities.

Below is a highlight of some of this year's recipients:

· Wildlife Trust: Black Lion Tamarin Conservation through Research and Community Involvement - Wildlife Trust teaches communities about sustainable development alternatives, including tree nurseries and handicrafts, to protect the black lion tamarins living in Brazil's Atlantic Forest.

· Northern Jaguar Project: Northern Jaguar Feline Photo Project - In an effort to reduce jaguar mortality and build conservation alliances with rural landowners, Northern Jaguar Project works directly with local ranch owners in Mexico to monitor and protect the species.

· Save the Elephants: Elephants and Bees - Save the Elephants minimizes human-wildlife conflict by studying and researching innovative strategies to reduce crop-raiding. By using beehives as a deterrent, community crops are left un-touched and families have a new source of income through honey production.

· University of Hawaii: Conserving the Green Sea Turtle in Hawaii - This program advances the understanding of the impact of pollution on endangered green sea turtles. Through further research, conservationists are able to work more effectively with local communities and governments to protect the turtles.

· International Rhino Foundation: Sumatran Rhino Conservation - The Sumatran rhino is considered the most endangered rhino species with numbers declining more than 70 percent in the past two decades. International Rhino Foundation is protecting the species through research and outreach programs in local communities.

To date the DWCF has accomplished the following milestones:

· More than $1 million to primate conservation efforts

· More than $900,000 to protect cats worldwide

· More than $850,000 to elephant conservation

· More than $850,000 to study and save sea turtles

· More than $625,000 to rhino conservation efforts

Since 1998, the DWCF has also awarded more than $575,000 in Rapid Response funds to assist with more than 120 environmental and animal emergencies. In the past year, the DWCF has provided more than $125,000 to support efforts worldwide including veterinary care and vaccinations for animals in the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti and rehabilitation efforts for the thousands of sea turtles affected by the winter cold snap in Florida. In 2009 additional support was provided through Disney's Friends for Change: Project Green in which 100 percent of iTunes proceeds of the inspiring program anthem "Send it On" were directed to environmental charities through the DWCF.

To view a complete list of the 2010 grant recipients and read The Walt Disney Company's most recent Conservation Report, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

March 24, 2010

Disney Rescues, Rehabilitates, Releases Endangered Sea Turtle in Mosquito Lagoon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 24, 2010 -- With the arrival of spring and rising temperatures, Disney's Animal Programs returned an endangered green sea turtle to its natural habitat this morning near the Canaveral National Seashore after a successful two-month rehabilitation at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

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The healthy, 10-pound patient is one of 14 critically injured sea turtles treated by Disney veterinarians and animal care experts since January as part of a massive effort by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to rescue more than 4,500 sea turtles impacted by record cold temperatures. As a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility, Walt Disney World Resort is one of several animal rehabilitation centers working with state officials to provide urgent medical care for hundreds of sea turtles that remain in critical condition from this winter's "cold-stun" event.

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Reptiles such as sea turtles are vulnerable to frigid conditions which may slow their metabolism and lead to life-threatening comas, frostbite and other health concerns that interrupt internal organ function. Several sea turtles brought to Disney's Animal Kingdom had suffered severe infections and damaged shells. So far, four of the 14 sea turtles have been successfully rehabilitated and released; today's release brings the total to five. The rest remain under the care of veterinarians and animal care experts in heated, salt-water pools behind Disney's Animal Kingdom.

"We're encouraged by the progress that each animal is making, and are keeping a close watch on several turtles that will require months of intense medical treatment," said Andy Daneault assistant curator of reptiles and amphibians with Disney's Animal Programs.

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.

"Ultimately, our intent is to contribute to the world's knowledge base of animals through research conducted in a broad spectrum of disciplines, all intended to improve care for animals in zoological habitats and conservation efforts in the wild," according to Jackie Ogden, vice president of animal programs and environmental initiatives for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

As part of this coordinated, statewide rescue effort, Walt Disney World Cast Members logged more than 10,000 miles throughout the state, carrying more than 500 rescued turtles to warmer waters or rehabilitation facilities. They also delivered much-needed equipment and critical medical supplies including towels, bedspreads, syringes, ointments and pharmaceuticals to areas in need. In addition, a team of Disney 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.

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.

March 2, 2010

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates Birth of Endangered Gorilla

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 1, 2010 -- Guests visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom are getting a special treat along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail where they can get a rare glimpse of a newborn gorilla born Feb. 19. The critically endangered western lowland gorilla, whose gender is still unknown, is doing well and has already become an integral member of the gorilla family group which includes first-time mother, Kashata, father Gino, and two other females, Benga and Hope.

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Members of the primate team at Disney's Animal Kingdom are encouraged by Kashata's natural instincts at motherhood. First-time mothers often experience difficulty knowing the right things to do. They must learn to properly hold the baby and adapt to a demanding nursing schedule. "Kashata has been a model mother from the moment the baby was born, said Matt Hohne, animal operations director for Disney's Animal Programs. "She immediately knew how to properly hold the baby and her nursing skills have been exemplary."

Since Kashata has been holding the baby close to her body, animal keepers have yet to determine the baby's gender. Most gorilla mothers keep their offspring close for several months while the baby adjusts to the environment. In addition, gorilla babies typically nurse for approximately 12 months and may be weaned between the ages of four and five.

The new baby, which is yet to be named, is the third gorilla born at Disney's Animal Kingdom as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals. Disney's Animal Kingdom also participates in AZA Species Survival Plans for several other animals, including elephants, cotton-top tamarins and okapi. The first gorilla birth occurred in 1997 before Disney's Animal Kingdom opened, and the second baby arrived in 1999.

Aside from breeding activities, Disney's Animal Programs team remains active in gorilla conservation in other areas. The team currently:

· provides staff expertise for the creation of the first rescue and rehabilitation center in eastern Africa for orphaned gorillas to ultimately reintroduce them back into the wild. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has provided funding to support this effort.
· has developed an innovative training technique that enables team members to monitor the heart health of gorillas at Disney's Animal Kingdom by administering cardiac ultrasound exams on fully alert gorillas.

GORILLA FACTS:
· Gorillas are the largest of all primates, standing 5-6 feet tall and weighing up to 450 lbs.
· In the wild, western lowland gorillas are found in lowland tropical rainforests throughout western Africa.
· Gorilla habitat in Africa is quickly disappearing because of coltan mining, a mineral used to make batteries for electronics. Recycling cell phones or laptops may contribute to gorilla conservation.


February 8, 2010

Disney Animal Experts Say Farewell to Flippered and Furry Friends

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Feb. 8, 2010 - Breaking up is hard to do - especially before Valentine's Day. But for a team of animal care experts from Disney's Animal Programs, saying goodbye often means a new beginning for the wildlife they've taken under their wing.

During the next few weeks, animal managers, veterinarians and behaviorists will wish farewell to dozens of endangered animals that will return to their native Florida habitat after spending weeks, months or even years with members of the Disney team. The animals range from a tiny, 11-ounce endangered rodent to a recently rehabilitated four-pound sea turtle to an eight-foot, 828-pound manatee. Whether flippers or feet, the common thread is that each one has received top-notch care as a reflection of Disney's commitment to animal conservation and wildlife rehabilitation.

CRACKING THE CODE ON WOODRAT LOVE
Most recently, the animal care team collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Lowry Park Zoo on the first-ever reintroduction of 14 Key Largo woodrats to the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in South Florida. The woodrats were bred at both Disney's Animal Kingdom and Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa as part of a recovery plan to augment the existing population found only in Key Largo. Scientists estimate that this native species has dwindled to about 500 after years of habitat loss, drought and the invasion of non-native animal species, such as the Burmese python.

"Although small in size, the Key Largo woodrat plays a larger role in the circle of life," according to Anne Savage, senior conservation biologist at Disney's Animal Kingdom. "Through diligent study, we may be able to link these tiny rodents to the distribution of essential sources of food for other animals. That activity could facilitate the growth of fungus, trees and other fauna. That's an important reason to be concerned about saving them."

Prior to their release at Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the Key Largo woodrats were placed in individual enclosures with nest structures designed and built by refuge volunteers. Supplemental food was provided for nearly a week while conservation biologists observed the animals in their new environment and felt comfortable removing the animals' protective enclosures. Each animal has been fitted with radio-collared transmitter which will help scientists track their movements once released.

Breeding this elusive species was a challenge since scientists had very little information about social structure, reproductive biology or ecology. Through diligent research, Disney animal experts studied the behavior of this nocturnal animal and found ways to successfully breed 30 of the native species. Since June 2006, 18 litters have been born in Disney's colony with litter size ranging from one to three pups.

Aside from scientific discovery, researchers develop special attachments to many of the Key Largo woodrats. "It feels similar to sending children off to college," said Savage. "As scientists, we hope the woodrats have cultivated the skills to survive on their own and they will be successful in their natural habitat. It's exciting to be part of this conservation effort and see them move on to their next chapter."

Facts on Key Largo Woodrats

· Key Largo woodrats share little in common with the average city rat.
· The rodents make their homes in the forested areas to avoid human interaction.
· Gestation period is estimated between 37-40 days.
· In the wild, males and females live separately and only come together for breeding.

"SEA" KING HELP FOR SEA TURTLES
As a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, Disney Animal Programs supports the rescue and rehabilitation of more than 1,000 injured and orphaned wild animals each year. During the past month, hundreds of Disney Cast Members rallied to support the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission in their efforts to rehabilitate as many as 4,500 sea turtles impacted by cold temperatures around the state. Because turtles are cold-blooded, frigid waters slow their metabolism which may lead to life-threatening comas.

As part of this rescue effort, Walt Disney World Cast Members logged over 10,000 miles throughout the state carrying more than 500 rescued turtles to warmers waters or rehabilitation facilities. They also delivered much-needed equipment and critical medical supplies including towels, bedspreads, syringes, ointments and pharmaceuticals to areas in need.

To assist efforts in South Florida, Disney sent a team of veterinarians and hospital staff on a proverbial "house call" to the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton. Working alongside several other surgeons, technicians and volunteers, the Disney veterinarians performed delicate surgeries to remove tumors from the eyes and fins of the green sea turtles in a makeshift, M*A*S*H-like field hospital along the beach. While still recovering from their surgeries, the sea turtles will eventually be released back into the warm waters off South Florida's coast.

At Walt Disney World Resort, engineers and water science experts quickly prepared for an incoming group of animal guests and converted a backstage area into a temporary rehabilitation facility - setting up heated, salt-water pools for 14 critically injured sea turtles that may require months of care. Once rehabilitation is complete, the sea turtles will be released back into the wild in the same area where they were rescued.

"Some of these sea turtles will require intense medical treatment over a prolonged period," according to Mark Stetter, DVM, Director of Animal Health at Disney's Animal Programs. "We want to be sure that we provide top-notch medical care wherever we can -whether it's on a Florida beach, an African savannah or a state-of-the-art veterinary facility. Ultimately, our intent is to contribute to the world's knowledge base of animals through research conducted in a broad spectrum of disciplines, all intended to improve care for animals in zoological habitats and conservation efforts in the wild."

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.

MANATEE GETS EARLY RELEASE
With one team focused on sea turtles, another group of Disney marine mammal experts are getting ready to return a manatee to its natural habitat in Brevard County later in February. With only 5,000 around the state, manatees are considered an endangered species around Florida.

This particular manatee, named "Kringle" was rescued from the Indian River in 2008 as part of a manatee rehabilitation program managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kringle arrived at The Seas with Nemo & Friends after suffering cold stress and missing his right front pectoral flipper from an earlier, unknown incident. During his 14-month rehabilitation, Kringle received treatment and therapy from marine mammal experts and now weighs more than 800 pounds.

Kringle will be fitted with a satellite tracking belt to follow his movements and allow for behavioral observation after his release. His progress will be monitored by the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in which Disney's Animal Programs has been involved since 2001 when the MRP was established. The MRP is a cooperative group of nonprofit, private, state and federal entities that monitors the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees.

"After caring for an animal like Kringle for several months, it's easy to become attached," said Jane Davis, curator at the Seas. "While it's often hard to say farewell, there's also a lot of joy to see an animal return to his natural home."

Disney guests also play an important role in the rehabilitation of wildlife through their contributions to The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, (DWCF). Through its Rapid Response Fund, DWCF recently donated $50,000 to help facilities rescue and care for sea turtles and other animals affected by the cold weather.

January 12, 2010

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes Gerenuk Calf to Herd

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan.6, 2009 -- Disney's Animal Kingdom recently welcomed its 28th gerenuk calf weighing in at eight pounds and approximately 1 ¾ feet tall, after a seven-month gestation.

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The female calf, named Squirt, was born November 25 to her five-year-old mother Sushaunna, and nine-year-old father Jingle. This latest birth is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's Gerenuk Population Management Plan.

A gerenuk, which in Somali means "giraffe-necked," is an African antelope with a unique long neck allowing them to eat leaves off trees. Unlike other gazelles and most antelopes that graze on grasses, gerenuks often stand erect on their hind legs and stretch their long necks to browse on taller bushes. They are typically found in areas of dry, bushy shrub. Gerenuk are very well adapted to an arid habitat and do not need to drink much since they get enough water from the plants they eat. Most adult gerenuk reach approximately three feet at the shoulder and range in weight from between 80 to 115 pounds.

At Disney's Animal Kingdom, guests can see gerenuk when they visit the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, a self-guided walking tour of native African wildlife. Pangani means "place of enchantment," and the exploration trail is an enchanting adventure into a lush, tropical forest and a verdant valley that are right out of the heart of Africa. In addition to gerenuk, animals Guests can find on the trail include gorillas, hippos, okapi, naked mole rats, meerkats and many species of exotic birds.

August 7, 2009

Adopt-A-Nest at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Vero Beach Resort

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Guests at Disney's Animal Kingdom can support sea turtle conservation by participating in the Adopt-A-Nest program at Conservation Station's Out of the Wild merchandise shop.

Here's how the program works: During sea turtle nesting season, a team from Animal Programs surveys the beach near Disney's Vero Beach Resort looking for new sea turtle nests. They examine a selection of the nests, and mark and numbers them for research purposes. At the end of the week, the team provides an update to the Merchandise team on the new nests, including nest number, date laid and species. The Animal Programs team later follows up on the nest once the hatchlings have emerged and collects information on the nest's success.

Guests who participate in the Adopt-A-Nest program receive an adoption certificate with a specific nest number on it, plus a plush Squirt from Finding Nemo and a Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) Conservation Hero button. Guests can track their nest's status by visiting www.disney.com/conservation Adopt-A-Nest link and look up their nest number. Each adoption is registered within a week, and Guests can expect news on their hatchlings about two months after the nest is laid.

The fee to adopt a nest is $50, with 74 percent benefiting DWCF and sea turtle conservation efforts in Florida. Out of the Wild is the only Walt Disney World theme park location that offers the Adopt-A-Nest program. The only other location that offers the program is the Island Grove Packing Company merchandise shop at Disney's Vero Beach Resort.

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Adopt a Turtle Nest at Disney's Vero Beach Resort

Guests at Disney's Vero Beach Resort now can donate to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund's sea turtle conservation efforts through the resort's new Adopt-A-Nest Program.

The program, which launched July 5, offers Guests adoption packages for $50 that includes: a Squirt plush toy (from Finding Nemo); a Disney Worldwide Conservation Hero Button; and an adoption certificate that lists the species of turtle and location of the nest. Guests can use their certificate number to track their nest's success and possible hatchings on DisneyConservation.com.

Proceeds from the program will benefit turtle and beach conservation efforts throughout the state of Florida.

Anne Savage, Ph.D., senior conservation biologist, Disney's Animal Programs, explains that this program is a great way to educate resort guests while raising funds for a great conservation effort, as all the funds raised through the program will go to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and sea turtle conservation efforts in Florida.

"Many of our guests who visit the resort are very interested in sea turtles," Anne said. "You can imagine how exciting it is for our guests to see a sea turtle nest and wonder how many hatchlings will make it to the ocean. Well, now they can adopt a sea turtle nest and not only learn how many hatchlings were in their nest but they also know that their contribution is helping to protect Florida's sea turtles."

So far the program has been a hit with Disney's Vero Beach Resort guests.

"The Adopt-A-Nest program, offered exclusively at Disney's Vero Beach Resort, has been a hit with our Members and Guests," said Sheryl Koenes, general manager, Disney's Vero Beach Resort. "The program began in early July and to date over 41 nests have been adopted. This is an exciting way for our Guests to continue learning about sea turtles, as they track their nest and become further educated on all Disney does to conserve wildlife. It creates a connection long after they have traveled home."

July 13, 2009

Disney Celebrates White Rhino Birth in Uganda

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., July 13, 2009 -- Uganda's first white rhino born in 27 years has a family tree with Disney roots.

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First-time mother Nande, a 10-year-old female white rhino born at Disney's Animal Kingdom, gave birth June 24 to a healthy male calf at the Ziwa Sanctuary in Uganda after a 16-month gestation period.

"We are thrilled to contribute to the sustainment of this critical species in Uganda," said Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President of Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "We are joining with the Government of Uganda and Rhino Fund Uganda in celebrating this milestone birth, which represents a significant accomplishment for wildlife conservation."

Nande is one of two white rhinos transferred in 2006 as part of the first-ever reintroduction of white rhinos from the United States to Africa. She was joined by Hasani, also born at Disney's Animal Kingdom, to help re-establish a white rhino population that has been extinct in Uganda since 1982 as a casualty of civil unrest in the region. There are an estimated 11,000 white rhinos remaining worldwide, with 190 in North American zoos.

Walt Disney World's commitment to conservation and rhinos goes beyond this first-ever rhino transfer. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has supported more than $250,000 in rhino protection and research projects in partnership with non-profit organizations throughout the world. For more information on the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund visit www.disney.com/conservation.

Disney's Animal Kingdom is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and a link to helping animals in their native habitats.

May 7, 2009

Disney’s Animal Experts Ensure Mother-Child Bond Among Animals

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., May 7, 2009 - The animal care team from Walt Disney World Resort has been busy since last Mother's Day, assisting with the births of more than 440 animals and more importantly, helping to ensure that the relationship between mother and child remains uncompromised.

While much focus is given to the expert care of the animals during the birthing process, equal attention is given to the delicate and complex mother-child bonding process which uniquely varies among species and among individual animals.

For example, animal care experts at Disney's Animal Kingdom were recently monitoring two baby vultures hatched from two different sets of new parents. One pair adapted quickly to their new parenting roles, while the other pair struggled and had difficulty feeding their new offspring. Concerned about malnourishment, the animal husbandry team intervened by providing supplemental food to the smaller bird. Eventually, the struggling parents began copying the behaviors of the adept parents and improved their parenting skills. Their efforts have been successful and today, both young chicks are of equal size.

"Disney's Animal Programs team constantly balances animals' physical needs such as food and shelter with the social needs of both mother and child." said Matt Hohne, animal operations director at Disney's Animal Kingdom. "By sharing this information with guests and with other researchers, Disney's Animal Programs hopes to protect species and learn more about breeding, animal behavior, health and natural habitats, which are paramount to the success of long-term conservation efforts."

Among mammals, nearly all of the primary caregivers are mothers, but in some groups, it may take an entire village to raise a child. For instance, Walt Disney World Resort welcomed a black and white colobus monkey baby - the first of its species born at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Animal keepers are typically more anxious about the parenting skills of any first-time mother, but this baby continues to thrive under the attentive and watchful eyes of first-time mother, Kabibi. She's also getting some extra help from three other adults that take turns watching the baby while the mother sleeps or eats.

Last June, second-time mother Moyo gave birth to a 327-pound male elephant calf - the heaviest animal yet to be born at Disney's Animal Kingdom. During the baby's first days, mother and son bonded quickly and the animal care team quickly became confident about the calf's future since nursing was early and successful. Some of that confidence may be attributed to experience. Having groomed and nursed a first-born, Moyo quickly remembered her prior parenting skills.

At Disney's Animal Kingdom, animal experts carefully monitor the progress of mother and baby, starting with the infant's eating habits and activity levels. They also closely watch the care-giving habits of the mother to ensure the baby receives appropriate care and grooming. This level of attention is maintained not only during infancy but throughout an animal's entire lifespan.

Through successful breeding programs, Disney's animal experts are helping to increase the population of endangered animals such as the Key Largo woodrat and the Micronesian kingfisher. The goal is to eventually reintroduce these captive-born animals in the wild. Such was the case with a pair of endangered white rhinos that were born at Disney's Animal Kingdom and transferred to a wildlife preserve in Africa. This was the first reintroduction of white rhinos from the United States to Africa and marked the beginning of efforts to re-establish a rhino population -- extinct since 1972 when white rhinos were a casualty of civil unrest in the region.

This commitment to animals reaches beyond the boundaries of Disney theme parks through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, (DWCF). Since establishment in 1995, the DWCF has donated $13.8 million in funding to 750 projects in 110 countries. One of the current projects is a gorilla rescue center in the Democratic Republic of Congo where animal experts are working to rehabilitate and reintroduce orphaned gorillas that lost both parents due to poaching and other illegal activities.

May 2, 2009

DISNEY JOINS FORCES WITH THE NATURE CONSERVANCY

DISNEY JOINS FORCES WITH THE NATURE CONSERVANCY TO PLANT 2.7 MILLION TREES IN CONJUNCTION WITH FIRST WEEK TICKET SALES FOR DISNEYNATURE'S DEBUT FEATURE, "EARTH"

Burbank, Calif. - April 29, 2009 -- Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures has arranged with The Nature Conservancy to plant 2.7 million trees in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, one of the planet's most endangered rainforests, it was announced by Dick Cook, chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. In keeping with the Disneynature EARTH's themes of protecting the planet and its wildlife, Walt Disney Studios volunteered to plant a tree in honor of every moviegoer who saw the film during its first week of release. The motion picture grossed an impressive $16.1 million at the box office during week one and broke an opening day record as well as an opening weekend record for a nature documentary. The film also garnered the highest praise from critics and moviegoers alike.

Through its campaign to Plant a Billion Trees (www.plantabillion.org), The Nature Conservancy, one of the world's leading international conservation organizations and its local partners are working to reforest 2.5 million acres of land and re-connect more than 12 million acres in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, one of the planet's most endangered and ecologically significant rainforests. This restoration effort will allow hundreds of plants and animals to re-colonize their former habitats and will protect vital watersheds.

Commenting on the announcement, Cook said, "We're proud to be working with The Nature Conservancy, one of the world's most effective conservation organizations, in planting trees in the endangered Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Through the Conservancy's Plant a Billion Trees campaign, we have an opportunity to honor those who supported 'EARTH' by making a tangible and lasting contribution to conserving globally-significant wildlife habitat. Our goal with Disneynature is to entertain and inform moviegoers about the wonders of our planet, and encourage them to learn more about what they can do to conserve nature."

"Disney has created a spectacular portrait of our planet with Disneynature's 'EARTH' and demonstrated their commitment to the planet by supporting our ambitious, large-scale reforestation effort to restore and preserve the magnificent Atlantic Forest," said Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. "We applaud Disney for their contribution to our effort to plant and restore one billion trees by 2015 in the Atlantic Forest, a global conservation priority area of rich biodiversity."

Beth Stevens, senior vice president, Environmental Affairs, The Walt Disney Company, added, "We are thrilled that through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund that we were able to expand a long relationship between Disney and The Nature Conservancy. The fund was established to support the study and protection of the world's wildlife and ecosystems, and 'EARTH' presented the perfect opportunity to give back to our planet in this tremendous way."

Where the Atlantic Forest survives, it presents some of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth. The region is home to more than 200 bird species and 60 percent of all Brazil's endangered species. And, on fewer than two and a half acres, scientists have identified more than 450 tree species - more species than are found on the entire eastern seaboard of the United States. The forest also is important because it is the source of clean drinking water for 120 million people. Today, however, only 7 percent of the original Atlantic Forest remains in well-preserved but isolated fragments. The Nature Conservancy's initiative in the Atlantic Forest contributes to the global effort by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to plant at least one billion trees worldwide each year, with a cumulative goal for 2009 of planting 7 billion trees worldwide.

Narrated by James Earl Jones, "EARTH" tells the remarkable story of three animal families and their amazing journeys across the planet we call home. "EARTH" combines rare action, unimaginable scale and impossible locations by capturing the most intimate moments of our planet's wildest and most elusive creatures. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, the acclaimed creative team behind the Emmy Award®-winning "Planet Earth," combine forces again to bring this epic adventure to the big screen.

About Disneynature

Disneynature, the first new Disney-branded film label from The Walt Disney Studios in over 60 years, was launched in April 2008 to bring the world's top nature filmmakers together to share a wide variety of wildlife subjects and stories with theatrical audiences. Earth, the first film to premiere domestically under the new label on Earth Day 2009, garnered a record-breaking opening weekend for a nature documentary. Walt Disney was a pioneer in wildlife documentary filmmaking, producing 13 True-Life Adventure motion pictures between 1949 and 1960, winning 8 Academy Awards (R). For more information about Disneynature, go to: www.disney.com/nature

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy at: www.nature.org

April 23, 2009

Environmentally Friendly Bakery Debuts at Disneyland Resort

Anaheim, Calif. April 22, 2009 - The new central bakery at the Disneyland Resort, used by Cast Members to create the delicious treats Disneyland guests enjoy, opened last month boasting numerous environmentally friendly features.

As with all new construction at the Disneyland Resort, various environmental tactics were researched and implemented. One such initiative is the use of 14 solar tubes that provide natural lighting into the building, significantly reducing the need for electricity. Another effort in energy reduction is the use of ice makers that form an ice block over night and then send chilled water to the air conditioning system to help cool the entire building during the day.

In addition to saving energy, the building uses porous asphalt paving in the parking lot, which captures, filters and returns rain water back into the ground, serving as a natural recycling system. Water reduction is also a part of the conservation program with an underground sprinkler system that is used for the surrounding landscape. The system prevents water evaporation and works on a time clock with humidity sensors - reducing water usage.

"Being environmentally conscious is extremely important to us and we are proud that this new addition to the Disneyland Resort helps conserve resources in so many ways," said Disneyland Resort President Ed Grier.

The new, larger bakery was constructed in response to the Resort's continued growth. The new space is four times the size of the existing pastry kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. Approximately 8 million products, ranging from wedding cakes to parfaits, are expected to be produced at the new bakery each year.

March 30, 2009

The Seas Granted Accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums

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Silver Spring, Maryland, March 30, 2009 - The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) today announced that The Seas was granted accreditation by AZA's independent Accreditation Commission.

"The Seas has been awarded AZA accreditation because of its high standards in every aspect of its operations," said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. "Orlando should be proud to have one of the top facilities in North America as a valuable community asset and economic engine."

To be accredited, The Seas underwent a thorough investigation to ensure it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process in order to be members of the Association, and are required to resubmit to this process every five years.

"Every visit you make to The Seas supports wildlife conservation." Maddy added. "It's an opportunity for families to get together and connect with conservation."

The mission of the AZA Accreditation Commission is to establish, uphold, and raise the highest zoological and aquarium industry standards through self-evaluation, on-site inspection, and peer review. The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the institution's operation in areas such as animal care (including living environment and daily enrichment), keeper training, safety for animals, staff, and visitors, educational programs, conservation efforts, veterinary programs, financial stability, risk management, visitor services, and other areas. The inspection team prepares an extensive written report for the Accreditation Commission. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal Commission hearing, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied. Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission's decision is made.

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, the AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, please visit www.aza.org.

March 10, 2009

THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY ANNOUNCES SIGNIFICANT LONG-TERM ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS


Strategic Environmental Objectives and Targets Outlined in
Disney's First Comprehensive Corporate Responsibility Report

BURBANK, Calif., March 9, 2009 -- The Walt Disney Company today announced a landmark set of strategic environmental goals and challenging 3 to 5 year targets to reduce emissions, waste, electricity and fuel use, and its impact on water and ecosystems.

The goals are part of Disney's 2008 Corporate Responsibility Report, which details the company's approach to critical corporate responsibility issues ranging from charitable giving to nutrition and from online safety for kids to workplace diversity.

"Disney's enhanced corporate responsibility efforts make our brands and products more attractive, strengthen our bonds with consumers, make the company a more desirable place to work and build goodwill in the communities we operate," said Disney president and CEO Robert A. Iger. "All of this contributes to shareholder value."

The interactive multimedia report, now available online only at www.disney.com/crreport, provides a detailed snapshot of the company's philosophy and activities in five areas; children and family, content and products, environment, community and workplaces. Details include the company's first comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory and updates on Disney's pioneering policies on healthy food guidelines and smoking in films.

Building on 20 years of work by Disney's environmental affairs department, the new goals and targets were formulated over the last two years by an Environmental Council of senior executives from across the company. Charged with developing and implementing sustainable strategies for Disney's impact on the environment, as well as ways to use the company's media reach to encourage positive action, the Council has taken a measured, scientific approach in analyzing company operations and crafting strategic objectives.

"While Disney has always been a leader in environmental stewardship, we are taking ambitious steps to help preserve our planet for future generations," said Disney Senior Executive Vice President and CFO Thomas O. Staggs.

The long-term environmental goals outlined in the report are:
-- Zero waste
-- Zero net direct greenhouse gas emissions from fuels
-- Reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions from electricity consumption
-- Net positive impact on ecosystems
-- Minimize water use
-- Minimize product footprint
-- Inform, empower and activate positive action for the environment

For additional details and medium-term targets visit www.disney.com/crreport

"We applaud Disney for its leadership in adopting these goals, especially at such a challenging time in the global economy," said Peter Seligmann, Chairman and CEO of Conservation International. "Disney's vision underscores the continued interest in the environment among people worldwide and the growing recognition that environmental leadership can help revitalize the economy." Conservation International provided advice to Disney on its new goals and targets.

The 2008 Corporate Responsibility Report represents the latest phase in Disney's longstanding heritage of corporate social responsibility and reflects a company-wide effort to build an integrated, transparent strategy focused on serving the needs of the company's primary stakeholders; consumers, employees, shareholders, business partners and the communities in which it works.

The report is organized as follows:
-- Children and Family - guiding principles, kids' health and nutrition, creative practices, programming philosophies and marketing policies
-- Content and Products - standards and practices, content diversity, product safety policies and parks accessibility and safety
-- Environment - environmental initiatives, progress and long-term goals
-- Community - charitable giving, VoluntEAR and community outreach updates
-- Workplaces - employee diversity, benefits and international labor standards

The report anchors a broader suite of publications being issued today. Six additional reports provide information specifically on Disney's Parks & Resorts segment and the following operations: Disney Cruise Lines, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. The suite of reports highlights issues of importance to local communities at some of the company's largest sites.

March 6, 2009

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes Birth of Colobus Monkey

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 5, 2009 -- Walt Disney World Resort recently welcomed a black and white colobus monkey - the first of its species born at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The infant arrived February 17 after a six-month gestation and may be seen along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail with a group of five other colobus monkeys.

While the weight, size and gender are still unknown, animal care experts are encouraged by the amount of care given by first-time mother, Kabibi. "The baby was born looking healthy and vigorous," said Rebecca Phillips, a primate manager at Disney's Animal Kingdom. "We're encouraged that the mother and baby seem to be adapting well."

At birth, colobus monkeys are covered in white fur that is gradually replaced with black hair matching the adults. The monkeys are distinguished by their black body and white shoulders, backs and beard. The monkeys stand between 18- and 27-inches tall and weigh approximately 12 to 32 pounds. Unlike most primates, the colobus do not have thumbs, although they have long tails that help them navigate through the forest quickly.

Kabibi came to Disney's Animal Kingdom in 2008 as part the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals. Disney's Animal Kingdom also participates in AZA Species Survival Plans for several other animals, including elephants, cotton-top tamarins and okapi.

Currently, approximately 65 colobus monkeys exist in AZA-accredited facilities around the United States.

January 26, 2009

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Welcomes Threatened Species

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 21, 2009 - Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge welcomed the birth of two Ruppell's Griffon Vultures earlier this month. They are the first hatchings of this threatened species at Walt Disney World Resort. Each chick weighed less than six ounces and was about eight inches long when hatched.

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Over the past twenty years, the population of Ruppell's Griffon Vultures has been declining. This reduction led the International Union for Conservation of Nature to raise the status of this species to threatened. Members of Disney's Animal Programs Team hope to increase the species population and generate more awareness of the challenges these birds face.

When grown, each new-born vulture could reach sizes close to three feet in height , with a wingspan of nearly eight feet, and can weigh 15-20 pounds. They are also known for their high-flying skills, being among the highest flying bird on record, once spotted at an altitude of over 37,000 feet in the skies of West Africa. Ruppell's vultures can fly more than three miles in six minutes and are able to stay in the air for as many as six to seven hours a day.

Ruppell's vultures are highly social; they roost, nest and gather to feed in large flocks. While they are generally a quiet breed, they may become vocal at the nest and during feeding time. The Ruppell's vultures pair up for life, which may be forty or fifty years.

September 15, 2008

First Rescue Center for Gorillas to Open in Eastern Africa

International Partnership Will Reintroduce Rescued Gorillas in Democratic Republic Congo

September 15, 2008 -- The first center in eastern Africa designed to rescue, rehabilitate and reintroduce orphaned gorillas back into the wild will begin construction later this month in the Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo. The center will also include a conservation education and public information program, and will work in partnership with local conservationists and authorities.

The new center is projected to hold up to 30 eastern lowland (Grauer's) and mountain gorillas and will be located on 370 acres of land within a 1,235-acre forested area near the Tayna Nature Reserve, in Kasugho, North Kivu, a stable region of eastern DR Congo.

Tayna Nature Reserve


The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International initiated the project, which has been granted funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USAID. The Fossey Fund has already been caring for 11 such orphaned gorillas that are victims of poaching and other illegal activities, in temporary facilities in Rwanda and DR Congo, in partnership with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.

Eastern lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) are classified as "endangered" and mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) are identified as "critically endangered" by the 2007 World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List, and experts consider both subspecies at high risk for extinction within several decades.

Orphaned Gorilla Ndeze will be among first gorillas at new gorilla rescue center

"This is a critical opportunity for us to help many more young gorillas that have been victimized by unlawful activity or habitat destruction, and also to strengthen our partnership with the people who are the true stewards of the land and the animals," says Fossey Fund president Clare Richardson. "All gorilla species are threatened with extinction. Both public education and rehabilitation services are critical to their chances for survival."

"Rescued gorillas require intensive care and specialized psychological rehabilitation if they are ever to contribute to the long-term survival of their species," says Alecia Lilly, Ph.D., Fossey Fund vice president. "Our decades-long studies of mountain gorillas and ongoing work with eastern lowland gorillas will provide a sound basis for this rehabilitation and socialization process."

Orphaned Gorillas Maisha and Kaboko at Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

The Fossey Fund will operate the facility in partnership with the Congolese conservation authority ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature) and the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. Also included in the partnership are the Tayna Nature Reserve and Tayna Center for Conservation Biology, the association of community-based gorilla reserves in Congo (UGADEC), Conservation International, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and animal experts from Disney's Animal Programs.

Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), which represents 18 primate sanctuaries in 12 African countries, will coordinate design and construction of the facility. PASA will also oversee a management team and staff to run the center once it is opened.

"Unfortunately, orphaned gorillas have become a serious problem in eastern Africa," says Doug Cress, PASA executive director. "With the creation of a specialized center, we will be better able to meet their unique needs and begin to reduce the poaching and illegal trade that has decimated these species."

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund will provide funding toward initial operating expenses for the facility. In addition, experts from Disney's Animal Programs will provide materials and in-kind services to assist with development and construction of the center, help relocate the current orphaned gorillas and provide educational opportunities for students and the community.

"We are pleased to collaborate with these respected conservation groups to provide staff expertise and funding in the creation of this much-needed facility to rehabilitate young, orphaned gorillas and, ultimately, reintroduce them back into the wild," says Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., vice president of Disney's Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives.

The land for the new center was donated by the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology. The site is adjacent to some 222,000 acres of forest in a fully protected nature reserve.

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About Conservation

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Disney and Florida Attractions News Blog in the Conservation category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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