Here's How Disney World Cares for Its Animals During the Coronavirus Crisis
We're pleased to report no gorillas have been furloughed.
When you think of Disney World, perhaps the Mad Tea Party spinning tea cups come to mind. Perhaps it's Cinderella's Castle. Perhaps it's Dole Whip. Or maybe, it's the many many animals you'll encounter at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the Living Seas at Epcot, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, and other spots across the Disney parks in Orlando.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the care of some 10,000 animals is just as important as ever, but how does Disney World coordinate these efforts during a health crisis? While many of Disney's employees have been furloughed, the majority of the 1,000 zookeepers, veterinarians, and more, at Animal Kingdom have remained working, as a recent article by Lisa A. Beach for Condé Nast Traveler reports.
Disney’s director of animal and science operations, veterinarian Scott Terrell, told Beach that his staff has worked hard to keep things running as normally as possible for the animal's welfare. “That’s been our guiding principle, so the animals can continue to thrive through this very difficult, challenging time,” Terrell said in the article. As always, the animal care team is giving animals regular health checks and medical care to help ensure the animals stay well.
While most animals don't notice the lack of visitors during the parks' shutdown, some young gorillas are attuned to the change. "The youngsters are now sitting at the window, almost like a person whose TV has been turned off,” said Mark Penning, who oversees animals and environmental issues at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, in the piece, adding that employees have gotten creative with their efforts to keep these primates occupied. During the park closure, one gorilla, Grace, even enjoyed a princess-themed birthday party in celebration of her first birthday. Watch the video below.
Otters, too, who typically see guests through an underwater viewing area, are being kept entertained during the closure, as the staff has placed alien-shaped cutouts on the glass windows. “The otters and the keepers found this amusing, and that’s something we wouldn’t do when our guests are around,” Penning shares.
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We're all looking forward to the day when we can safely return to Disney World to visit some of these majestic creatures. Until then, we're grateful these animals are in good hands—and serving as a reminder that no matter the outside world, life drums on.