17 February 2008

A magnificent realm of exciting adventures

Disney’s Animal Kingdom was announced on June 20, 1995 by Michael Eisner, just as site preparation for the park was being completed. Continuing the long-standing tradition of edutainment, with truly unique experiences and wild encounters, Animal Kingdom promised to bring a new dimension to the Disney theme park collection.

When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened almost ten years ago, on April 22, 1998, it brought with it a message of conservation. This message was being implemented by the park’s Species Survival Plan, a program that is part of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, along with a world class advisory committee which included naturalists, professors, the Order of the Golden Ark recipients, and zoo directors. According to Michael Eisner, “Disney recognizes that the need for awareness of endangered animals and their environments never has been greater. We believe that, as storytellers and communicators, we are in a unique position to promote a deeper understanding and love for all animals. We hope that people will come here because they love animals and that, when they leave, they will have a new knowledge and respect for the beauty and complexity of the animal kingdom.”

Respecting the beauty and complexity of the animal kingdom is a lofty goal, but one I hope to explore with my preschoolers this year. While in Walt Disney World for Animal Kingdom’s 10th Anniversary, I hope to gather available resources to enhance the projects I am already planning for my class. My final goal is to not only have our playground certified as a par of the Backyard Wildlife Habitat program, but to also connect my students to the world around them a little more, and a little less to their television sets.

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