Elephant Calf Welcomed into World at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

New male elephant African Elephant calf with with mother, VashaThe 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.

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Elephants May Fear and Warn of Bees According to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Study

A microphone records the sounds from nearby elephants. © DisneyAlthough elephants may be the largest land mammal, they may also have an inherent fear of bees and know how to communicate that threat to each other.

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.

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International Veterinary Team Helps Swaziland Save Habitat and Help Control Elephant Population

Veterinarians Perform an Elephant Vasectomy

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Aug. 5, 2009 – Led by Disney’s Animal Programs, an international coalition of veterinarians from conservation groups, zoos, universities and private industry have returned from Africa after effectively sterilizing seven bull elephants in Swaziland’s Big Game Parks.

As a result of this effort, Swaziland wildlife officials will be able to better manage the elephant population in wildlife parks and reserves over the next decade.

Elephant overpopulation in wildlife parks and reserves in Swaziland and other southern Africa countries is a growing concern that can have devastating effects on the natural habitat as well as other animal species that live there. Wildlife officials in several countries are considering culling elephants in order to control the population growth. One of the ways to address this concern is with an innovative population management tool developed by an international veterinary team to help save habitat without harming elephants.

“Surgical vasectomy helps reduce elephant birth rates, while maintaining normal hormone levels and common elephant social behaviors,” according to veterinarian Dr. Mark Stetter, director of Animal Health at Disney’s Animal Programs. ”With this procedure, we’re pleased to help wildlife officials in Africa balance the need to provide quality elephant care with an eye toward sustaining the ecosystem for other native animals.”

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SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Grant $700,000 to Help Protect At-Risk Animals

SEAWORLD & BUSCH GARDENS CONSERVATION FUND LOGO

ORLANDO, Fla., July 16  — Endangered species and habitats under stress will get a much-needed lift this week thanks to $700,000 in grants being awarded by the non-profit SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to wildlife protection projects in the U.S. and around the world.

The Fund’s board of directors approved grants to 83 projects, including wildlife rescue and rehabilitation efforts, research of little-known species, protection of critical habitat, and grassroots education efforts aimed at increasing awareness and changing behaviors.

One of the Fund’s 2009 grant recipients, Save the Elephants, is working to protect the Earth’s largest land animal, using technology in unexpected and effective ways to reduce conflicts with humans.

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Disney’s Animal Progams Leads International Effort to Manage Elephant Population

Elephant VasectomyLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., July 2, 2009 – Disney’s Animal Programs is leading an international coalition of veterinarians, conservation groups, zoos, universities and private industry to conduct a series of procedures to effectively sterilize male elephants to help reduce elephant overpopulation in areas of southern Africa.

The team plans to perform laparoscopic vasectomies on eight bull elephants in Swaziland’s Big Game Parks. For the past five years, the team has performed the procedure on nearly 20 male elephants in an effort to reduce the elephant birth rates in wildlife reserves, while maintaining normal hormone levels and common social behaviors for the individual elephants.

Elephant overpopulation in wildlife parks and reserves in southern Africa is a growing problem that can have devastating effects on the natural habitat as well as other animal species that live there. Wildlife officials in several countries are considering culling elephants in order to control the population growth.

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Disney Emergency Support Will Help Move 60 Elephants in Africa to a New Home

Baby elephant. Photo courtesy of IFAWThe Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) is providing emergency support to Conservation Solutions (CS) to help translocate more than 60 elephants that are currently living amongst communal farming lands in the district of Mangochi, Lake Malawi. Due to increased competition between humans and elephants for natural resources there has been a dramatic upswing in illegal poaching, poisoning and other efforts to manage the animals.

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