TouringPlans is pleased to welcome guest author Athena Evans.
May 1, 2021, is Save the Rhino Day, a day to encourage conservation efforts focused on trying to help the rhinoceros from going extinct. One of the best features at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the ability to see animals, including two species of rhinoceros, in habitats uniquely designed for them, all while learning about Disney’s commitment to assisting wildlife in danger. The Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction is a great way to rest your legs on a relaxing animal spotting journey. Rhinos can usually be seen on the safaris, but they also can occasionally be spotted in their night houses on the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Although suspended for COVID restrictions, rhinos also could be seen on both the Wild Africa Trek and the Up Close with Rhinos tour.
In October of 2020, a new baby white rhino was born at Animal Kingdom, as part of Disney’s commitment to helping endangered species. The rhino’s name, Ranger, was chosen to honor wildlife rangers who protect rhinos around the world, says Scott Terrell, director of animal and science operations for Disney Parks & Resorts. Ranger is even featured on the Disney+ series “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” which follows mom Kendi’s pregnancy story. The rhino habitats at Animal Kingdom are made to create a safe and welcoming environment by increasing their physical activity, and offering real choices to encourage them to display natural, wild behaviors.
Despite their naming, both black and white rhinos are gray in color. The shape of their mouths surprisingly differentiates them, not their coloring! A black rhino has a pointed upper lip, which is used to pull leaves from bushes or trees. The white rhino has a more square-shaped upper lip as it feeds by grazing. Today, rhinos sadly remain critically endangered because of the rising demand for their horns and to be hunted for sport. The main threats to rhino are poaching, habitat loss, and the illegal trade of rhino horn which has increased sharply since 2007. Rhinos help to sustain plant biodiversity and grazing lawns habitats, and without them gazelles would likely also go extinct.
The Disney Conservation Fund is focused on saving wildlife for future generations by working together to stabilize and increase the populations of at-risk animals, which includes rhinos. By donating to Disney’s Conservation Fund at any location in Animal Kingdom, you can help keep these endangered animals safe and protected from harm. Disney’s successful white rhino breeding program at Animal Kingdom allows the animal care team to make direct contributions to the conservation of white rhinos in the wild. Additionally, Save the Rhino Day is celebrated on May 1st to draw attention to the plight of the rhinoceros species in the wild, and how we as a community can help protect these animals. Make sure to visit Animal Kingdom on this day, and you may see some extra activities going on in celebration of Save the Rhino Day that you would not get to experience otherwise.
Athena is a full-time college student who loves going to Disney any time she can squeeze it in. She’s new to Florida and look forward to experiencing all it has to offer, especially during this stage of her life. She’s an art major and plans on pursuing a career with Disney or Pixar as an artist/animator after college. Her other hobbies include dancing, singing, playing video games, and discovering new music/movies. Athena has recently started her own Disney Instagram account to photograph her adventures and would love the support!