Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida has, since its opening, been the largest Theme Park in the world that is dedicated entirely to animal conservation and wildlife education. Immense in its scope and range, as Disney Fanatics would know, the Disney park spans 580 acres, and is divided into seven themed lands: Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Pandora—The World of Avatar, Asia, DinoLand U.S.A., and Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Of all the animals and birds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, one is particularly special: the flamingos. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a beautiful flock of flamingos that can be seen in the Oasis area of the Disney Park. These stunning birds are a part of the Park’s “Discovery Island Trails” exhibit, which features a variety of animals and plants from around the world.
However, the flock has also been facing some difficulties. As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, “The bright pink birds had been in the Disney park for a couple of decades, but only one chick had… hatched.” Experts suspected that Central Florida’s weather pattern was responsible, considering that rains regularly ruined the birds’ nests.
Kristin Cibotti, zoological manager and former animal keeper at the Theme Park, shared, “For years, we had this issue of, you know, we get a heavy rain … and it would wash everything they had worked on away, and then they’d have to start all over again.”
But Disney came up with a solution. Cast members at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex came together and worked together to help the flamingos. The issue at hand was finding a building material for the birds that would allow them to build solid nests that couldn’t be washed away by the rain, and it turns out the clay that lay under the baseball diamond next door was the answer.
The field manager next door introduced the Animal Kingdom Cast Members to the special clay-sand mixture that ESPN used for the field, and as they say, the rest is history. “The birds are able to really shape it in a way that they want to, and then it sticks. Once it dries, it really kind of hardens and stays in the shape,” Cibotti said.
After this revolutionary finding and decades of producing only one chick, the flamingos produced nine eggs and one successful chick last year when they made their nests with this new mixture. Cibotti is hopeful that there will be even more to come.
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