Lions, giraffes, and rhinos—for 25 years, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has led worldwide conservation efforts to increase threatened animal populations and restore their habitats.
The park houses one of the world’s largest veterinarian hospitals, where they care for every species.
"We have our big charismatic animals that everybody thinks of, but we are veterinarians for all the animals, and every patient matters to us," said Zoo and Wildlife veterinarian Betsy Stringer.
The Animal Nutrition Center staff oversees 1,500 different diets and delivers 10,000 pounds of food to animals every day, but their work isn’t contained to just Animal Kingdom; the Disney Conservation Fund has directed $120 million to groups to help save wildlife.
Elephants were destroying African farms, so Disney’s staff partnered with researchers and developed a program using bees to keep the elephants away.
"Once the bees were in there, if they were disturbed, if it started shaking, the bees would start making these vocalizations, and most of the time the elephants would turn and go away because they didn’t want to be stung," said Zoological Manager Ike Leonard.
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From the large to the small, the conservation team designs wildlife and animal habitats into the parks.
At the Shanghai Disney Resort, the Wishing Star Lake was created for struggling bird populations, which over the years surged in numbers.
Now the hope is that the threatened and endangered butterflies, including the monarch, will thrive in pollinator gardens across all the Disney properties. Something experts say you can also do at home.
"You don’t even need a whole backyard. You can have a container garden and have a small space and just hang it outside your window," said Disney Conservation Manager Zak Gezon. "You put milkweed in the ground, the butterflies, like the monarch butterflies, are gonna look for it, show up, and make use of the resources."
And on Earth Day, the conservation experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are encouraging everyone to grow a pollinator garden to help care for your local animal kingdom.
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