Many guests were wondering this past weekend what Disney does with the inhabitants of Disney’s Animal Kingdom with Hurricane Irma looming in the forecast and Disney park closure announcements starting on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 9, 2017).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s is home to some 1,700 animals representing 250 different species throughout the 500-acre park. That’s a lot of wildlife to keep track of!
Disney doesn’t evacuate their animals off property. They have safe locations for them behind the scene, aka “backstage”, at the Animal Kingdom Park. All of the wildlife pens and barns were built of reinforced concrete and designed to be able to withstand a Category 3 Hurricane.
As a Disney Cast Member, Caroline took an exclusive DAK backstage tour. She learned how the animals get called back to their pens in the evening with special whistles and signals. The animals actually can’t wait to return to their overnight pens because they know that food and water, along with fresh bedding, is waiting for them! The whole process takes 3 hours to complete.
Last weekend, Disney had all their cast member zookeepers, trainers, and veterinary staff on hand during the hurricane. These experts monitored the behavior of the animals and continually checked on them both before, during, and after the storm.
With the announced park closure on Saturday afternoon, the Hurricane Rideout Teams were activated across the WDW property. These crews are made up of volunteer cast members who agree to stay in their park or resort for at least 72 hours during the storm. [Caroline’s CM friend was stationed at The Living Seas aquarium in Epcot all weekend during the hurricane.]
Some water-dwelling creatures such as the alligators and turtles were left in their outdoor man-made habitats since this is where they were the safest. All birds were brought inside. (The native Florida birds that live at DAK were left outside.)
Disney takes every precaution with their animals, ensuring that they all were kept safe. Not one animal was harmed during Hurricane Irma with winds that topped 80mph in Orlando! All animals were safe and sound on Tuesday morning when the park re-opened.
If you’re interested in seeing the animal pens and how well Disney treats all their animals, you can take a backstage tour at DAK called Backstage Tales!
Read more about the Disney World’s Hurricane Rideout Teams and what they do before and during a hurricane:
We’ve written two books about our time working and playing at Disney World.
Both are available on Amazon.com: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale and Adventures in the Animal Kingdom.
If you’d like to follow our daily Disney blog, here’s the link: https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/
Have a magical day!