We recently saw Disney Nature’s newest documentary titled Monkey Kingdom, and it was pretty good. What I loved about this film that was different than previous Disney Nature pics was that they showed the interaction between the monkeys and their human neighbors. As humans develop more and more into previously wild areas, there will inevitably be some overlap. You get to see the difference in how they live between their wild home, and the one in the big city. Their sleeping habits are affected, their diets, and even their social structure. Narrated by Tina Fey, it had the typical style of other Disney Nature documentaries where the subjects are named, and the events take place from a particular animal’s perspective, in this case, an adult female monkey low in the social order. It follows the amazing journey of these monkeys from their home territory, to the big city, and back, and the female monkeys journey from the bottom to the top of the social hierarchy. I recommend this movie to both adults and children looking to learn more about nature and get a good story at the same time.
As if classics like The Lion King and Tarzan or parks like Disney World (Orlando, FL) and Disney Land (Anaheim, CA) weren’t enough to make us love Disney, they also devote a major part of their company to conservation and environmental efforts.
Those who have been to Animal Kingdom in Disney World Orlando have likely experienced the Kilimanjaro Safari ride which takes you in a large vehicle through their preserve where you can see animals like giraffes, elephants, hippos, lions, and more. These animals aren’t just for show, they are studied by Disney’s conservation research scientists. If you pay a little extra, you can even go on a more behind the scenes tour called the Wild Africa Trek. I did this a couple of years ago and you are led by a wildlife biologist guide who can answer all of your questions about the animals and the research efforts. At the end of the trek, we were able to select a conservation organization for a portion of our tour fee to be donated too. It was a really fun experience.
In Epcot (where I celebrated my birthday yesterday), there is an aquarium called The Seas with Nemo & Friends. At The Seas, there is a Finding Nemo ride, and the ride exits into the aquarium where you can see fish, dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and more. These animals are also part of research and they even have educational displays about these animals throughout the building.
In Epcot, there is also a ride called Living With The Land that takes you through a little educational display about the history of agriculture and some of the environmental damage some practices may have caused. You then go through Disney’s greenhouse where you learn about new farming techniques they are studying with the USDA to find more efficient and less environmentally detrimental ways to farm. You even learn that a lot of the fruits and vegetables served throughout the park are grown on Disney grounds in their greenhouse.
Epcot is also home to one of my favorite rides starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy called Ellen’s Energy Adventure. On this ride, you travel into Ellen’s dream and go back to when the dinosaurs walked the earth to learn about where our fossil fuels come from and then Bill Bye teaches her about the future of alternate energy sources like wind and solar power.
On top of the environmentally educational attractions in the parks, Disney also funds and collaborates on a lot of conservation projects through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and through their Disneynature documentaries.
The Disneynature documentaries come out every year on Earth Day and always give you great information and glimpses into the lives of living things. Favorites of mine have been African Cats, Chimpanzee, and Oceans. The film that will be coming out on Earth Day 2014 is to be called BEARS.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFl6guPcHvg]
Disney does so much in the way of conservation and education and teaching the next generation about conserving the world around them. It’s no wonder I love Disney so much. I feel like there are probably a lot of people out there who may not realize all that Disney does.