Friday, June 15, 2012

Walt Disney World Mythbusting: Where are the Animals at the Animal Kingdom?

Animals are Here...Trust Me
Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park may be the largest and newest jewel in the Walt Disney World crown, but if you ask many people, it is their least favorite of the Disney parks. In fact, Animal Kingdom is usually the park that folks will leave off their must do list if they are in Disney for a short stay. Why is the Animal Kingdom the red-headed stepchild of the Disney universe? That is a hard question to answer and perhaps a topic for a future post. However, as a defender of the Animal Kingdom, I feel compelled to dispell fiction with some facts in this first of the Disney Mythbusting posts here on darthmaz314.

Beautiful Mini-Waterfall at Animal Kingdom Oasis
One common knock on Animal Kingdom is that it is “just a Disney zoo.” This is usually followed by the knock that “for a zoo, you never see any animals!” Hoping to bust this myth, I present the photos below, taken personally by your humble host here at darthmaz314, on three different Disney trips within the last four years.

But before the pictures and at the risk of sounding like an Animal Kingdom apologist, I present the following apology:
Keep in mind that like any wildlife exhibit (notice I avoid the use of the word “zoo”), Animal Kingdom’s commitment to the well being of the animals sometimes runs contrary to the “wow” factor that could put the animals in your face. Disney has long stated that they are committed to providing the best possible environment for the animals housed at the Kingdom. In fact, the park is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which means that it meets or exceeds their standards in wildlife education, conservation, and research. In fact, I would imagine that the wildlife at Animal Kingdom is cared for better than a good percentage of our children here in America, and an even greater percentage of children in many other parts of the world.
The point being that if we are to believe Disney’s press about providing the best possible environment for the animals, we can assume that this means a decent amount of roaming room, as well as areas for the animals to escape from the elements. Basically, this translates into occasional (or more than occasional) no-shows by some of our furry/feathered friends, no different than any other “zoo” in the world. If animals are kept in a 20’ by 20’ cage perched along the side of a visitor walkway, it is hard for them to hide. However, when they are provided with a free-roaming natural habitat that mimics that of their native home, they naturally have the opportunity to escape our eager eyes. If Disney used the “Jurassic Park bait tactic” of leaving a tethered goat along the side of the safari vehicle path for the big cats to devour, you could bet that they would make themselves visible. However, carnivorous animals tearing their helpless prey limb from bloody limb might run contrary to the Disney entertainment philosophy.
So on to the mythbusting! You want animals at the Animal Kingdom? Here you go...........

The Real DUMBO?
Looks like a Giraffe. Is this "Animal Enough" for the Naysayers?
Butt there are animals at Animal Kingdom!!!!

Hungry, Hungry Hippo at Disney's Animal Kingdom
"I'm Sexy and I Know It"
The King of the Animal Kingdom
No Botox for this Big Boy 

"Shh! Stay Still and They Won't See Us"

Catching Some Rays Animal Kingdom Style

What a Croc...!

"If There's One Thing I've Learned, It's Keep Your Head Down at Animal Kingdom"

"You Don't See Me, Do You?"

"How Cool are We?"

He's Got Friends in Low Places

"Break Formation and Run!"
Keeping His Head Above Water at Animal Kingdom

Too Shy for the Safari
And there are more where those came from. So if you're interested, place The Animal Kingdom on your list of Disney Must Do's and tell the animals darthmaz sent you.

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