A little more then a month ago, the Disney World Conservation Fund (DWCF) awarded $250,000 to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), whose animal rescue team rushed to join the effort to save animals after Hurricane Sandy. The money helped equip a disaster response trailer used by IFAW responders and it will continue to provide resources for disaster response as well as help IFAW by providing training sessions for disaster preparedness.

In 2000, DWCF helped IFAW rescue 20,000 endangered penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. They also offered support for the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami and the Haiti earthquake. And those efforts don’t even include the rescue missions and conservation world Disney’s Animal Kingdom ® provides.

The largest single Disney ® theme park in the world, Animal Kingdom ® covers more than 500 acres, most of which animals occupy. Animal Kingdom ® is also the first Disney ® theme park to be centered on animal conservation and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Since it’s opening in 1998, Animal Kingdom ® has welcomed several animal, some even endangered including six elephant calves, four newborn giraffes, and eight white rhinos. In 2006, the park’s first white Rhino born at Animal Kingdom ® Nande and another of the park’s rhinos named Hasani, were transferred to Uganda’s Ziwi animal sanctuary, in the first attempt to re-introduce white rhinos to the country where they had previously been extinct. In 2009, Nande gave birth to a male calf. It was the first white rhino birth in Uganda in 25 years!

In addition to the re-population of the white rhino and other animals back into the wild Disney’s Animal Kingdom ® also offers several other ways for guests to learn more about the creatures that live in the park and what Disney ® is doing to help protect them. The attraction Conservation Station is a great place to gain knowledge as it is home to animal encounters, interactive exhibits and a veterinary facility where animals are treated.

Guests can also see how the animals in Animal Kingdom ® are cared for during the Backstage Safari Tour. This 3-hour tour gives you an insiders look at how Disney ® Cast Members care for the 1,500-plus animals of the park. During the tour you will see what the animals eat at the Animal Nutrition Center, meet animal keepers and learn more about the animals that inhabit the park, take a tour of the state-of-the-art veterinary hospital and learn how Disney ® further promotes global wildlife conservation and animal well-being at the Animal Programs Administration.

To learn more about Animal Kingdom’s ® animal rescues and conservation efforts you can find discounted Walt Disney World ® tickets right here on Best of Orlando.

Orlando, FL - 1/25/13