In a photo taken July 24, 2012, five-time Grammy Award-winning singer Carrie Underwood and her husband, NHL Nashville Predators star Mike Fisher, pose with Minnie Mouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Underwood and Fisher took a vacation with friends to Walt Disney World Resort before she continues preparation for her upcoming concert tour of North America, ‘The Blown Away Tour,’ in support of her latest number one album, ‘Blown Away.’
Photo by Gene Duncan, courtesy Walt Disney World Resort
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.
- 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.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide is joining forces with visionary filmmaker James Cameron and Fox Filmed Entertainment to bring the world of AVATAR to life at Disney parks. Through an exclusive agreement announced today by Disney, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox, Disney will partner with Cameron and producing partner Jon Landau to create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of AVATAR first hand. Disney plans to build the first AVATAR themed land at Walt Disney World, within the Animal Kingdom park. With its emphasis on living in harmony with nature, Animal Kingdom is a natural fit for the AVATAR stories, which share the same philosophy. Construction is expected to begin by 2013.
“With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”
“James Cameron is a groundbreaking filmmaker and gifted storyteller who shares our passion for creativity, technological innovation and delivering the best experience possible,” said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “With this agreement, we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine James’ talent and vision with the imagination and expertise of Disney.”
“AVATAR created a world which audiences can discover again and again and now, through this incredible partnership with Disney, we’ll be able to bring Pandora to life like never before. With two new AVATAR films currently in development, we’ll have even more locations, characters and stories to explore,” said James Cameron. “I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality.”
The agreement announced today gives The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) exclusive global theme park rights to the AVATAR franchise and provides for additional AVATAR themed lands at other Disney parks. The other locations will be determined by Disney and its international theme park partners. James Cameron, Jon Landau and their Lightstorm Entertainment group will serve as creative consultants on the projects and will partner with Walt Disney Imagineering in the design and development of the AVATAR themed lands.
“This exciting new venture combines the world of AVATAR with the enormous reach of Disney and the incomparable talent of Jim Cameron,” commented Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman. “While Jim is bringing audiences further into Pandora with the next two chapters in the AVATAR motion picture saga, the theme park attraction will likewise bring a new dimension to the amazing universe he created.”
“AVATAR is a uniquely powerful franchise that has global appeal with audiences of all ages. Its spectacular settings, intriguing characters, imaginative creatures, and strong themes of family and loyalty make it a perfect fit for Disney,” said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We can’t wait to give our guests the ability to journey to Pandora and explore the incredible immersive world of AVATAR in person.”
In addition to setting a global box office record, AVATAR has been hailed as one of the most innovative and visually stunning movies ever produced. With its advanced motion capture and 3-D digital projection technologies developed by James Cameron and his team, moviegoers were able to connect with the world of AVATAR in new and engaging ways.
This new venture complements Walt Disney Parks & Resorts’ strategic efforts to continue to invest in its core theme park businesses around the world while simultaneously expanding into other parts of the family vacation business.
Photos courtesy Disney
Karma is taking its toll on Primeval Whirl in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. The attraction, which has been plagued with problems during its refurbishment, including causing injuries and even death to cast members, closed on January 17, 2011 and was initially scheduled to re-open on April 6 which was later extended to April 17, then to June 2 and now has been pushed back much further with a new scheduled re-opening date of September 15, 2011.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Be the first to know when changes that potentially affect your trip occur by signing up with ReSearch! The only Disney Parks refurbishment schedule that covers attractions, dining and resorts, lets you drill down to your own specific dates and even emails you when your dates are affected — and it’s completely free!
Take a leisurely stroll along the Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort and you’ll encounter many of Asia’s exotic animal inhabitants from the Komodo dragon of Indonesia to the Bengal tigers of India. What you won’t find, however, are the coveted giant pandas of China.
As rare as they are in the wild (with a count of around 1600), they’re even rarer in zoological parks. Zoos in less than ten countries exhibit them and in the United States, only four zoos have them on display: the National Zoo in DC, Zoo Atlanta in Georgia, the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee and the San Diego Zoo in California. Perhaps more shocking than their rarity is the price at which they come. Each of these institutions pay a minimum of $1M per year for a pair of adult pandas with a standard contract length of ten years. That amount is then doubled as money is contributed to China for panda wildlife preservation and research as dictated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who has mandated that at least 50% of the fees goes to research in order for a zoo in the U.S. to import pandas.
If the zoo is lucky in that the pandas mate and produce a cub (a feat that’s so famously near impossible that artificial insemination has become the norm), the annual fees to China increase by $600,000 and the cub is property of the Chinese government, and soon ‘returned.’ Add to that the initial expense of building the habitat and the ongoing care and maintenance and it becomes an immediate financial challenge for many zoos that rely on park admissions and donations to keep operations at full steam.
Of course this certainly wouldn’t be as much an issue for Disney Parks and Resorts (aside from Disney’s Animal Kingdom being nahtazu) and in many ways, it seems like a natural and perfect fit. So we ask: where are the pandas?
At this point, we can only presume there are political concerns. Not Disney-China relations, but Disney-United States relations. Given that pandas are a primary source of tourism for the few zoos that do have them, adding them to the most visited theme park resort in the world would most certainly prove detrimental to the other zoos to some extent, so it may be that there are some ‘exclusivity’ concerns being tossed about. Also worth noting is that in the grand scheme of things, Disney is still the cub in the family when it comes to exhibiting animals in the zoological arena.
Still, it’s hard to ignore that Disney has been wooing China and its people in overt and covert ways with more prominence as time goes by. Given the well publicized non-successes of Hong Kong Disneyland, The Walt Disney Company has focused serious attention on China (in addition to India and Russia) over the past few years. The company has produced localized films (such as China’s Trail of the Panda by mere coincidence) and introduced syndicated and original local Disney Channel content. In China in particular, where Disney-brand recognition has been a struggle, the company has opened Disney English, a chain of schools that teach English to Chinese youth while equipping them with strong knowledge of Disney characters and, in a further attempt to reach out to the people, is now incorporating Chinese lore and characters into its theme parks.
Now, with the recent news that Disney will be opening an Animal Kingdom park in addition to Disneyland and Epcot at Shanghai Disneyland, the missing element becomes that more obvious. Could Disney be using an Animal Kingdom annex to prove to the Chinese government once and for all that it is more than capable when it comes to the care and feeding of one of the country’s national treasures?
Walt Disney World Releases Concept Photos of New ‘Wild Africa Trek’ Experience; Confirms Stitch Kingdom Report
Walt Disney World has shared with us two new concept photos of the upcoming new tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the ‘Wild Africa Trek.’ Initially announced on the official Disney Parks blog as starting later this fall, Walt Disney World now confirms a Stitch Kingdom report that the tour will not start being offered to guests until ‘early 2011.’
A tiny Colombian primate known for its distinctive punk-rock hairstyle is in imminent danger of extinction, according to new research done by an animal expert at Walt Disney World Resort. The findings paint the clearest picture yet of a dwindling population at risk.
The endangered cotton-top tamarin is found in a small area of northwest Colombia. According to the research featured in the journal Nature Communication, there are now just 7,000 of the species left in the wild.
“Everything we do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom revolves around caring for wildlife and wild places,” said Dr. Ann Savage, senior conservation biologist at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “Our research project is an example of the leading edge work our animal experts are doing around the world. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, all of us are committed to using new technologies and new techniques to study animals.”
Cotton-top tamarins are threatened by habitat destruction, where natural forest is converted to cattle pasture, and trees are used for housing and fuel. They are also captured as part of an illegal wildlife trade.
Averaging about ten inches long, cotton-tops are tiny in size and hard to see since they live high up in the forest canopies and flee at the first sign of people. Before the study, there was no reliable estimate of how many of these animals are left in the wild and no feasible method of counting them.
However, Dr. Savage knew that cotton-tops tamarins were attracted to the sound of tamarin vocalizations. That proved to be the key to surveying the shy animal. So Dr. Savage, working with Dr. Len Thomas of St. Andrews University in Scotland, developed a technique of playing recordings of cotton-top tamarin calls and counting the animals that came to find the source of the vocalization. Because of the work of Dr. Savage and Dr. Thomas, cotton-top tamarins are now on the list of the world’s 25 most endangered primates.
Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can spot the cotton-top tamarin shortly after stepping off the train at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where they can also learn what’s being done to protect the species.
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.
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.”
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. Read more…