/ Monday, September 17th, 2007

Conservation Station was renamed “Rafiki’s Planet Watch” on October 15, 2000.It is not uncommon for Disney to rename or update attractions or locations to tie-in to successful movies, as here, where the name was changed to refer to Rafiki, the wise old baboon from Disney’s “The Lion King.” The tie-in works perfectly here (of course), as Rafiki guided the young lion king Simba onto the path he was meant to follow. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, he guides guests into learning about conservation and the environment.

The Wildlife Express Train takes you to the research and education center known as Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Be sure to look at and play with the various Touch Screens, allow you to check out the Animal Cams throughout the park

Following in the footsteps and philosophy of Walt Disney himself of not just his love of animals, but his work on education, conservation and the environment, the Walt Disney Company has for decades made groundbreaking achievements in those areas. And more importantly, they have endeavored to bring that same education and appreciation for animals to its Guests. From the simple introduction by way of attractions like the Jungle Cruise, to the first use of live animals in an attraction in the Living Seas pavilion, in 1998, Disney took this Guest experience to the next level with the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Beyond just being a safari-like attraction, the Kilimanjaro Safaris offers Guests a unique opportunity to see animals in their true environments, all the while educating them about the importance of conservation and respect for the animals and their habitats.

But we also know that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is truly “Nahtazu”, as Disney offers its Guests hand-on exhibits, educational programs, and the ability to explore, interact with, and learn from the incredibly detailed environment that they are immersed in. It serves to inspire a love and appreciation for animals through its shows, exhibits and attractions, and even more subtly through the beautiful artistic representations found throughout the park, including in its shops and restaurants.

What Guests might NOT realize is that DAK is also a real, working research facility, making incredible strides to learn about and help protect animals and their environments. And what Guests also probably may not realize is that above and beyond what you see onstage, and can learn from places like the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, the Maharajah Jungle Trek, and more specifically, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, is that there are other, unique opportunities for Guests that are directly tied into this conservation research.

Here, Guests also have an opportunity to watch scientists at work.

Efforts are directed at three important study areas:

  1. One involves sonograms to create visual “images” of animal sounds in an attempt to discover just what each growl, call, rumble or screech means to other animals — danger, satisfaction, love, anger. “We are interested in the function of each call and how the sounds influence the behavior of animals,” Savage explains.
    1. Feeding tape-recorded vocalizations into computers, the researchers expect to find how an elephant says, “Hello,” with his low stomachy grumble or “trumpets” of danger when he raises his trunk up high. Guests may even record their own voices to see what their words look like on the sound graphs.
  2. Another area of investigation involves endocrine studies on hormone levels in animals (both in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and in the wild). “Analyzing hormones found in urine or feces will allow us to determine if an animal is pregnant, when puberty occurs and the overall reproductive health of the animal,” Savage explains.
    1. The results can be used to help animal management in zoos and parks and also have important implications for animal conservation programs in the wild.
  3. A third program highlights various techniques used to follow animals in the wild. Hi-tech radio transmitters (like miniature beepers) placed on key animals allow scientists to track turtle movements via satellite telemetry or determine the size of the home range for little endangered animals such as cotton-top tamarins which are only found in one area of Colombia.

In addition to the Wildlife Tracking Center, there are a variety of interactive experiences at the Conservation Station.


Song of the Rainforest

Eco Heroes

Caring for the Wild

Animal Encounters

Self Guided Backstage Tour

Wildlife Tracking Center

Veterinary Treatment Room

Hatchery – Check out the eggs and see what is hatching at the hatchery!

Nursery – Feeding and care for newborn animals.

Food Preparation Room
– There are many different animals to feed in the park, and a lot of meals to

Learn more by visiting Disney’s Worldwide Outreach and Environmentality web site: http://disney.go.com/disneyhand/environmentality