National Audubon Society to Recognize Disney Conservationist Dr. Beth Stevens

Dr. Beth Stevens. Photo courtesy DisneyOn May 18, Dr. Beth Stevens, Senior Vice President of Environmental Affairs for The Walt Disney Company, will be one of four women recognized by the National Audubon Society in a ceremony in New York City as one of the leading women in the field of American conservation.

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Environmentally-Friendly Paints Add Color to Blizzard Beach’s Reopening

Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach. Photo © DisneyDisney’s Blizzard Beach water park reopened for the spring and many of the bright colors – from the showcase “snow” on Summit Plummet to the smallest details at Lottawatta Lodge – are thanks to new environmentally-friendly paints.

In Florida, Walt Disney World Resort is a leader in the use of environmentally-friendly, low VOC paint.  Some of the chemicals found in paint are volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.  Previously, VOCs were considered essential to the durability and performance of paint, both in how well the paint withstood outdoor weather conditions and how quickly it dried.

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Actor and Activist Pierce Brosnan to Narrate ‘OCEANS’ from Disneynature

Today is World Water Day and so it was revealed by Disneynature that the narrator of its upcoming release OCEANS, which debuts in theaters on Earth Day (April 22) will be veteran actor Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan is also an outspoken environmentalist who is active in promoting ocean conservation efforts, lending his support to the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s “Save the Whales Again!” campaign, as well as working with environmental organizations including Sea Shepherd, California Coastal Protection Network, Ocean Futures Society, Oceana and Waterkeeper Alliance, among others.

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Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Donates $20,000 in Aid to Animals in Haiti

Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) mobile animal clinic in Haiti. (Photo by Tomas Stargardter)Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) is proud to support International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to provide veterinary care and vaccinations for animals in the wake of a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. IFAW and the World Society for the Protection of Animals are jointly leading the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), working with more than a dozen of the world’s leading animal protection organizations to aid as many animals as possible.

Funding will provide the ARCH team with medical supplies and equip a “mobile clinic” that is delivering emergency care for injured animals and administering vaccinations to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as rabies. Click here to watch a short video about IFAW’s relief efforts.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates the Birth of Endangered Lowland Gorilla

Mother and newborn western lowland gorilla. Photo courtesy DisneyGuests 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.

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.”

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Disney Animal Experts Say Farewell to Flippered and Furry Friends

Key Largo Woodrat. Photo courtesy of DisneyBreaking 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.”

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes White Rhino to the World

Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcomed a healthy white rhino to the family last week with the addition of a female calf born Sunday, Jan. 17.  Kendi, an 11-year-old white rhino, gave birth to her third baby after a 16-month gestation period. The baby, which has not yet been named, is the eighth white rhino born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; her mother, Kendi, was the first.

“A rhino birth is considered to be a significant event since the species was once nearly extinct and is currently endangered,” according to Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., vice president of Disney’s Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives. “Under protection and careful management, this species has grown to approximately 11,000 worldwide, with 190 residing in North American zoos.”

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes Gerenuk Calf to Herd

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.

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.

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See Disneynature’s OCEANS and Help Save Our Oceans

Through a partnership with the Nature Conservancy, Disney will donate $.20 for each ticket sold during the first week of the theatrical release of Disneynature’s OCEANS (with a minimum donation of $100,000).

The donation will go towards a new Adopt-a-Coral-Reef program focusing on The Bahamas which aims to save 500,000 acres of threatened coral reef, accounting for 30% of the reef in the Atlantic Ocean.

As a result of attendance during the first week of Disneynature’s first US film, EARTH, Disney helped plant 2.7 million trees in the rainforests of Brazil.

For more information on the program, visit the The Nature Conservancy.

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Photo: Betty White ‘Buddies’ Up for Charity

Betty White appears with Buddy Rosebud. Courtesy of DisneyTwo Golden Girls, Betty White a.k.a. Rose Nylund, and Rosebud from Santa Buddies support Morris Animal Foundation at the Eukanuba AKC Long Beach Dog Show on Sunday, December 13, 2009 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California. Ms. White accepted a check on behalf of the Morris Animal Foundation, a canine cancer research organization, and a cause close to her heart. The donation from Eukanuba will help fund the research goal to cure canine cancer in the next 20 years!

Photo courtesy of Disney.

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