Meet some of Animal Kingdom’s opening-day animals
Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate its 25th anniversary on April 22, 2023, but did you know many of the animals are also celebrating 25 years at the park? To mark the occasion, we wanted to introduce a few opening-day animals who’ve lived at Animal Kingdom since 1998.
Gino, a Western Lowland Gorilla, is probably already familiar to frequent Animal Kingdom visitors as he can often be spotted sitting atop his rock, where he keeps an eye on what’s happening.
At 42 years old, Gino is the oldest gorilla at the park, but because of the trust between Gino and the park’s animal care experts, his keepers have developed essential techniques to benefit gorillas in managed care around the world. Gino is also one of the first gorillas in the world to allow his caretakers to perform cardiac ultrasounds without anesthesia, a practice that dozens of zoological facilities have adopted for early diagnosis of cardiac disease, one of the leading causes of death in gorillas.
Even though he stands over three feet tall, you may not have noticed Johnny, the White Stork,on Discovery Island, but he’s probably in a few of your selfies.
Johnny lives at the base of the Tree of Life, one of the most popular photo spots in the park, so he’s photo bombed quite a few shots over the years (maybe even on purpose).
One of nine elephants in the herd that roams Harambe Wildlife Reserve, Maclean (aka Mac) is the largest of the park’s heritage animals, weighing in at nearly 13,000 pounds.
By caring for Mac and other elephants, Disney animal experts have been able to study elephant vocalizations to learn how they communicate by using various sounds, some of which can’t be heard by human ears.
Meet Jack and Jill
This pair of adorable miniature donkeys who live in the Affection Section at Rafiki’s Planet Watch proudly wear customized halters showcasing their status as opening-day animals.
Jack and Jill do everything together, including demonstrating how donkeys in Columbia carry small trees in their saddles to help replenish South American rain forests.
Despite being a Rhinoceros Iguana, Sid has no rhino relatives. Instead, his name comes from his rhino-like “horns,” which aren’t actually horns at all – they’re scales.
If you’re looking for Sid, he can be found in The Oasis at the front of the park, where he sometimes hangs out in the shade to cool down from the Orlando sun.
The female Nile Hippopotamus is one of five hippos who have been at the park for 25 years – though she’s the youngest.
Tuma was just over a year old when she arrived at Disney’s Animal Kingdom three months before the park opened, and now she’s a proud mom to Augustus and Greta, whose births were essential to the worldwide conservation of these amazing animals.
You can visit these opening-day animals – and all of the park’s 200 species – on April 22, 2023, to celebrate Earth Day and Disney Animal Kingdom’s 25th anniversary. Click here for details.
What a lovely article!