By Scott Terrell, DVM, DACVP, Director of Animal & Science Operations, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Remember the first time you saw the love of your life… or stepped foot into a new home… and the rush of excitement that came with it? Those kinds of significant first moments also exist in the animal world and are the focus of the latest episode of National Geographic’s “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” now streaming on Disney+.
Let me tell you about a couple of my favorite “firsts” in this episode titled “Betty and the Beast”:
Anyone who has ever been on a “blind date” can relate to the first meeting for babirusas Betty and Mentari at The Oasis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. A special matchmaking plan, known as a species survival plan (SSP), introduces the pair to each other on a breeding recommendation. The animal care team put a lot of thought and effort into ensuring both Betty and Mentari made a positive first impression that could develop into something more – a chance at creating a little babirusa piglet.
You may recall seeing news about the first baby babirusa born at the park a few months ago, and now you know, it all started with Betty and Mentari’s first date. This threatened species has grown by one more, thanks to the birth of Kirana.
Another great “first” in this episode follows our herd of Hartmann’s mountain zebras as they are introduced to their new home on the savanna at Kilimanjaro Safaris. Move-in day was a big moment for the animal care team, who successfully transferred the herd onto the savanna for the first time in the park’s history. This big family moment was made extra special with the arrival of a male foal born into the herd just a few weeks prior. Here’s a look at the newest member of the zebra family:
I hope you are getting a chance to enjoy the “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom” and its first-ever looks at some of the incredible behind-the-scenes work that goes into taking care of 5,000+ animals. You can become part of the conservation conversation by following us on social media. We’re sharing even more behind-the-scenes content from our animal keepers on @drmarkatdisney on Instagram and @DisneyASE on Facebook. And be sure to check out this week’s family-friendly activity page, now available as a complimentary digital download.