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Jane Goodall Praises Disney’s Animal Kingdom Facilities

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Most Disney fans already know that Disney tends to do things well when it comes to details and hard work — and Disney fans who pay attention to National Geographic or Disneynature also know that the Walt Disney Company tends to put a high value on the welfare of animals in its theme Parks and the push towards conservation and animal rights worldwide, so it’s not surprising to be reminded that Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cast Members take good care of the animals in their care.

However, Dr. Mark Penney (the Vice President of Disney’s Animals, Science, and Development department) just revealed on the D23 podcast that the theme Park received some very high praise indeed from a very famous conservationist!

Jane Goodall is a primatologist and renowned conservationist who is without a doubt one of the most iconic and famous primate experts in the world. She has been involved with many conservation initiatives and organizations throughout her career, and Dr. Mark revealed that the iconic primatologist has become intimately familiar with the Animal Kingdom’s caretaking methods along the way!


Dr. Jane Goodall with a chimpanzee.

The D23 podcast always ends with a “favorite Disney memory” from the person being interviewed — and after sharing something surprising about one of the Animal Kingdom’s most famous residents, Dr. Mark chose from his plethora of happy Disney animal memories quickly!

“A difficult one because we have so many wonderful things going on here,” the doctor pointed out, but he decided that the best Disney memory for him was “probably when we had Jane Goodall visit us here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and we had a wonderful conversation about how well our animals are doing”.

dr mark disney gino

Dr. Mark Penning and Animal Kingdom primates. Credit: D23 / Disney

“Of course, we hold Dr. Jane in very high esteem [here at the Animal Kingdom] and she is obviously one of the most famous biologists of all time,” the doctor continued. “She made a very interesting statement. She was asked about where she would choose to live if she was a gorilla — and she said [that] if she could live anywhere in the world [as a gorilla], she would choose Disney’s Animal Kingdom”.

Gino the Gorilla, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Gino in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Credit: Disney

Gino Disney's Animal Kingom

Gino Credit: Disney

For a primate expert, that’s a strong statement — but apparently, Dr. Jane Goodall said that she made her choice “because that is where gorillas get the best care”. Dr. Mark recalled that “she said very pointedly [that] she wouldn’t choose to live in the wild because the wild is no longer a safe place for gorillas. And that’s a very poignant statement, isn’t it?” he mused.

“We’re here to give people messages of inspiration and hope, because imagine if gorillas could be safe in their natural habitat,” Dr. Mark added. “and imagine what’s possible…if we can keep them here safely and successfully, what can we do in Africa in their natural environment? How can we protect them better? Because that’s our Disney magic. We tell great stories and hopefully, these stories inspire people to take better care of wild places”.

It takes a lot to impress Dr. Jane Goodall, and rightly so, so we’re pleased to learn that the Animal Kingdom was considered a wonderful place for gorillas to be safe in her eyes!

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

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