The International Fund for Animal Welfare 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.
For the first time, Disney Cruise Line guests will have the opportunity to join crew members onboard Disney ships and on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, as part of the “Walk for Wildlife” campaign. This year, Disney Cruise Line will donate $5,000 on behalf of guests and crew members to the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to support JGI’s chimpanzee conservation efforts.
Starting today and throughout next week, the guests and crew of all four Disney ships will have the opportunity to participate in a two-mile “Walk for Wildlife” either while visiting Castaway Cay in the Bahamas or while onboard the ship, completing six laps around the promenade deck.
“We are truly excited to provide this unique opportunity for our guests and crew members to connect with nature while raising money and awareness for a great cause,” said Rena Langley, Vice President of Public Affairs for Disney Cruise Line. “This is the fourth consecutive year our crew members have participated in ‘Walk for Wildlife,’ and we are confident that this year’s event will be even more special because our guests are participating for the first time.”
Nearly $30,000 has been given to environmental charities, as a result of company and personal crew member donations, since the program began three years ago. The walks first began as events exclusively for crew members, allowing them to show their commitment to conservation by making personal donations to environmental causes. Whether onboard our ships or on land, Disney Cruise Line promotes wildlife conservation, works to protect native animal species, shares environmental programs with guests and ports of call worldwide and educates others to inspire environmental action in daily life.
In honor of Earth Month, Disneynature has 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), Disneynature will make a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute through DWCF.
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.
The elephant herd at Disney’s Animal Kingdom got just a little larger with the birth of a baby calf. Weighing 311 pounds, the male African elephant was welcomed into the group by his mother Vasha, 10 herd members and a team of animal care professionals assisting with the birth.
The 25-year-old mother delivered the herd’s sixth offspring after gaining more than 800 pounds during a 22-month gestation. This latest addition, which has yet to be named, is the second calf for Vasha, who gave birth to a female calf, Kianga, in 2004.
With support from the animal care team, the newborn, whose first tentative steps are becoming stronger and more confident, is now successfully nursing from his mother. Vasha has been getting to know the calf, gently touching the young animal with her trunk and keeping a watchful eye on him.
“The natural bonding between mother and calf is fascinating,” said Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., vice president of Disney’s Animal, Science and Environment Programs. “The team is encouraged by the early interaction between mother and calf and will continue to monitor them closely for the next several weeks.”
The next critical milestone is for the calf to continue the bonding process with his mother who will teach him important lessons and protect him as he gradually acclimates to the rest of the savannah herd over the next several weeks. With 12 elephants, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has one of the largest African elephant herds in North America, including four males and eight females.
Vasha became pregnant through artificial insemination in October 2009 and received extensive pre-natal care throughout pregnancy. Since early August, animal care teams have provided round-the-clock monitoring, regular ultrasounds and daily hormone monitoring to more accurately predict the beginning of labor. In the past few years, Disney’s animal care teams have been able to narrow the birth window to within four days, which enables them to better prepare for the delivery. With this birth, the team had been on heightened baby-alert since Monday.
This is the sixth elephant born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Others include:
- Tufani, a male, born in 2003;
- Kianga, a female, born in 2004;
- Nadirah a female, born in 2005;
- Tsavo, a male, born in 2008; and
- Luna, a female born 2010.
Disney has been at the forefront of efforts to better understand and care for endangered elephants. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is part of a breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in North America. AZA’s Elephant Species Survival Plan has called for a five-fold increase in African elephant reproduction efforts – using both natural and artificial breeding methods – in order to create a self-sustaining elephant population among North American zoos and wildlife centers.
Baby Elephant Facts
- Depending on the calf, it could take several days for the calf to coordinate trunk movements. Initially, it may only be able to wave it in the air, suck on it or trip over it. Typically within a week the calf has gained enough control to begin picking up small objects and food.
- Suckling up to 12 liters a day, baby elephants may depend on mother’s milk for up to three years, although they can be weaned at two years of age.
- Calves learn how and what to eat by watching the older elephants.
Photo courtesy Walt Disney World Resort
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?
After a four-month rehabilitation at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, an adult male osprey was recently released at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort near the site where he was rescued earlier this summer. An eager group of Walt Disney World Cast Members and resort guests looked on as the bird took to the air for the first time since June.
The osprey was emaciated and listless when he was found on June 17. After receiving emergency care from Disney animal care experts, the raptor was transported to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Fla. for further treatment. After several months of intensive care, the bird was moved to the Center’s Magic of Flight barn to stretch his wings and complete the rehabilitation process.
Disney sponsored the building of the flight barn in 2001 and has provided ongoing support of the Center. As one of the few structures of its kind in the U.S., the flight barn is used to rehabilitate raptors, such as eagles, hawks, owls and ospreys, so they can ultimately be released back into the wild.
“It’s always nice seeing a bird released back where he belongs,” said EagleWatch Coordinator Lynda White, minutes after watching her most recent patient fly the coop at Lake Dorado. She attributed the successful release to the support of her staff and companies like Walt Disney World. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without Walt Disney World,” she said. “In fact, without Disney, there wouldn’t be an EagleWatch program or a flight barn at all.”
Several weeks prior to the osprey’s release, volunteers from Walt Disney World Resort joined staff at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey to refurbish the flight barn and its surroundings. Volunteers spent the day helping with roof repair, pressure cleaning, replacement of food boards and prey boxes, and re-wrapping very large perches.
“We were excited to pitch in to help spruce up the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, which provides so many services to both community and wildlife,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of Community Relations at Walt Disney World. In addition, Walt Disney World Community Relations gave the center a new pressure washer and sliding ladder for continued upkeep, and Disney’s Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives donated equipment for animal care.
Disney’s on-going support has enabled the flight barn to play a pivotal role in conserving and protecting Central Florida’s wildlife by helping thousands of birds regain their strength and stamina before returning to the wild.
Photo courtesy Walt Disney World Resort.
The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) announced the recipients of the “Disney Conservation Heroes” award for 2010 today during the annual meeting of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The award recognizes citizens around the world for their tireless efforts at the local level to save wildlife, protect habitats and educate the communities around them.
“Conservation efforts around the globe and in our own backyard rely on the local community and direct involvement of dedicated people like our Disney Conservation Heroes,” said Dr. Jackie Ogden, Vice President, Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “These are extraordinary individuals who are passionate about protecting animals and habitats in areas of critical concern.”
This year’s honorees represent conservation programs in six countries and three continents that concentrate on a wide array of animal species from sea turtles to chimpanzees. They were nominated by nonprofit environmental organizations and AZA zoos and aquariums committed to field conservation programs.
Each award recipient and their nominating organization will share a $1,000 award from the DWCF. This year’s recipients include:
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.
Disneynature 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.”
That’s the conclusion of a team of researchers from Save the Elephants, Oxford University and Disney’s Animal Kingdom who have discovered a new alarm call made by elephants in response to the threat of bees. Working with herds of elephants in Kenya, scientists theorize that this unique rumble may warn other herd members of the bees’ presence, prompting pachyderm retreats even when no are bees present.
“The purpose behind these studies is to find a novel way of keeping elephants from raiding the crops of local communities, and thereby reducing “human-elephant conflict,” according to Joseph Soltis, Ph.D., research scientist at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “As human populations expand, they move into elephant territory and elephants and people end up sharing the same space. One of the consequences is that elephants start raiding crops, which can end up harming both people and elephants.”
Using an array of microphones hidden in the bush, scientists first recorded the vocal reaction of the elephants to bees and then replayed these elephant rumblings without bees present. When elephants heard this recording through wireless speakers, they behaved the same as they did when bees were present; they shook their heads, threw dust in the air, and ran away from the area. These very low-frequency “rumble” vocalizations are apparently different from other rumbles, leading researchers to believe that that elephants may use their voices to communicate threats to each other.