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.