Not only is it Earth Day today — a day when one is reminded to reduce, reuse, recycle and save baby animals, but it is also the birthday of Disney’s Animal Kingdom! DAK (as some of us ex-Cast Member crazy people refer to it) is 12 years old today. I was working there the day it turned 9, and I remember it being fun — there were some behind-the-scenes events for those who worked there, and we all got cards about DAK’s birthday with seeds embedded, so you could plant the cards and get a garden. Until I worked there, I was definitely not an environmentally friendly as I try to be now. When you are surrounded by conservation messages and endangered animals, and recycling bins ever 5 feet, it’s kind of hard to have it not rub off on you. Now, not being able to easily find a recycling bin will drive me up a wall in about 2 seconds, and I end up carrying around empty soda cans or water bottles until I find one.
For all it’s big-corporation-ness (because, as we know, Disney is HUGE) I think they do a pretty astounding job with spreading “Environmentality” as they call it, an idea they developed from way back when Walt was alive and they did the True Life Adventures series. They’ve resurected the True Life Adventures concept with Disneynature — a new branch that realeased Earth last year and Oceans this year (TODAY!)
Going the first week in theaters donates part of the ticket price to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, which was very prevalent at Animal Kingdom too, with donation buttons EVERYWHERE.
The cool kids over on the Disney Parks Blog have some facts about the amount of conservation they do at the parks and resorts, and the numbers are pretty astounding. Animal Kingdom is also accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for their work in education, conservation and research, and they have incredibly successful breeding programs — most notably white rhinos, giraffes and elephants.
Hope everyone has a happy Earth Day! I may not spend all day spouting off animal facts at work anymore, but I’ll be refilling my water bottle, and keeping the lights off.
In celebration, here are a couple pictures from my days saving baby elephants from poachers and telling people to SIT DOWN WHILE WE’RE DRIVING OVER THE CROCODILE BRIDGE.