Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Announces 2010 Grant Recipients

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.

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Over 35,000 Acres of Coral Reef to be Saved by ‘OCEANS’ Moviegoers

Coral Reef Protected by donations from Disneynature on behalf of moviegoersDisneynature announced today that its “See ‘OCEANS,’ Save Oceans” campaign will protect more than 35,000 acres of coral reef in The Bahamas on behalf of the moviegoers who came out to see Disneynature’s motion picture “Oceans” during its opening week.  Through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, Disneynature will help establish new marine protected areas through the The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt a Coral Reef program. At 55 square miles, this protected area of coral reefs will be almost two-and-a-half times the size of Manhattan or the equivalent of more than 412 Disneylands, supporting the expansion of the Westside National Park of Andros.

The Bahamas represent an important ecosystem, straddling the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.  The 700 islands that comprise The Bahamas contain miles of vital coral reefs, which are the foundation of a healthy ocean environment, providing shelter, nurseries and feeding grounds for hundreds of marine species, including dolphins, sea turtles and a wide range of fish. Scientists estimate that the coral reefs of the Caribbean could be gone in 50 years without a network of well-managed marine protected areas.

“We’re excited to once again collaborate with The Nature Conservancy on an initiative that takes the impact of Disneynature’s storytelling to an entirely new level,” said Alan Bergman, president of The Walt Disney Studios. “The health of our oceans is absolutely vital to the well-being of our planet and thanks to the supporters of Disneynature’s motion picture ‘Oceans,’ this investment in marine conservation will help ensure critical aquatic environments will thrive for future generations.”

“Disneynature has captured the beauty, wonder and fragility of our world’s marine habitats and species in ‘Oceans,’ said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “We appreciate Disney’s commitment to help protect marine areas in The Bahamas, which is home to 30 percent of all coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean. With Disneynature’s support, The Nature Conservancy and its partners are making significant progress toward our ambitious goal of doubling the total amount of marine protected area in The Bahamas.”

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Disney Parks Releases 2009 Conservation Report

2009 Disney Conservation ReportJust in time for Earth Day, Disney Parks and Resorts released its 2009 Conservation Report earlier today. The report, which highlights various programs, activities and educational initiatives Disney Conservation has parktaken over the past year, can be found here.

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Advanced Ticket Sales for Disneynature’s OCEANS Help Save More than 790 Acres of Coral Reefs So Far

“OCEANS” won’t open till Earth Day, yet 400,000 moviegoers have already bought tickets to catch the movie in its opening week and protect coral reefs in the process.  The “See ‘OCEANS,’ Save Oceans” initiative has bolstered ticket sales for the film; Disneynature’s pledge to make a contribution in honor of everyone who sees the motion picture between April 22-28 has already translated to more than 790 acres of marine protected area in The Bahamas—and that number is still growing with advance ticket sales on the rise and the April 22-opening just a week away.

“With 400,000 tickets sold so far, Disneynature’s second film is making a huge splash and saving coral reefs along the way—and ‘OCEANS’ hasn’t even opened yet,” said Chuck Viane, president, distribution, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. “Coral reefs are essential to the global ecosystem; we’re already on our way to establishing more than 790 acres of new marine protected areas—that’s the equivalent of about 600 football fields or nearly the size of New York City’s Central Park—and sales are still going strong.”

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DisneyStore.com Launches ‘Earth Day Boutique’ With Toy Story, Muppets, DWCF and Make-A-Wish Items

Alien Tree Planting Kit from DisneyStore.comA few days ago, we revealed some of the new Earth Day limited-time-only merchandise from the Disney Store featuring the Alien from Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 with the tag line SAVE PLANET EARTH. Today, DisneyStore.com launched its Earth Day Boutique and although you won’t find any of that merchandise online, you will find dozens of other eco-friendly merchandise including Alien tees, a tree planting kit (pictured), a Muppets water bottle and re-useable tote and more eco-friendly merchandise.

Other items of special interest in the store include merchandise supporting the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund and a special re-useable tote from Make-A-Wish in honor of its first annual World Wish Day on April 29 with proceeds going to charity.

To see all of the items now available for purchase, click the special link below.

DisneyStore.com Earth Day Boutique. Shop Now!

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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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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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Club Penguin Fans Give Early Holiday Gift to Kids around the World

Record numbers of children donated virtual coins they earned playing games in the popular virtual world of Club Penguin this holiday to support charities working to improve the lives of kids and families around the globe.

The third annual Coins for Change campaign, conducted from December 11 to 21, 2009, allowed children who visited Club Penguin to help change the world by contributing to help kids who are sick, kids who are poor or the environment. The players’ donations served as votes to determine how a $1 million cash contribution would be divided amongst charitable projects in the real world.

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