• ONLY ON 9: Disney's Animal Kingdom's global quest to save animals

    By: Jamie Holmes

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Twenty years after opening its gates, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is on a mission to protect animals around the planet.

    Every year, millions of Walt Disney World guests experience the park’s rides and attractions: including its 2,000 live animals.

    “There is never a moment when these animals aren’t under the care of our dedicated animal care professionals,” said Dr. Scott Terrell, director of Disney’s Animal & Science Operations. “Those 1,100 cast members have dedicated their lives to helping us save these species.”

    These experts at Disney have made Central Florida a hub for preserving species from extinction. The Disney team has bred more than 200 species to help assure their survival.

    Before that can happen, every part of the animal and its habitat must be studied. Then Disney experts share their knowledge worldwide.

    “It’s not just about the animals here in Central Florida,” Terrell said. "It’s about their counterparts all over the world.”

    Some of those animals are particularly vulnerable. Sumatran tigers Jeda and Anala were born in August. There are only 400 left in the world.

    The park is also home to Gus, a Nile hippo born in January, as well as rare zebra foals born just days ago.

    “The power of these two incredibly cute and beautiful animals to really contribute to saving a species,” Terrell said. “We can’t underestimate the impact these animals at Animal Kingdom have.”

    Over the coming months, Animal Kingdom staff members will travel all over the world to study more endangered animals like dolphins, rhinos and painted dogs. Disney says it has given out $70 million in grants to help conservation work in 115 countries. ​

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    ONLY ON 9: Disney's Animal Kingdom's global quest to save animals