by Kim Sams, Director, Disney Corporate Social Responsibility at The Walt Disney Company
As Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrates its 20th birthday, we reflect what an incredible 20 years it has truly been. I recall our opening day and could not be more proud of what has been accomplished in the past two decades. Not only have millions of families connected with the magic of nature through immersive experiences at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but together through the Disney Conservation Fund we have contributed more than $70 million to support nonprofit organizations working to save wildlife, inspire action, and protect the planet in 115 countries.
This year alone, Guests like you helped the DCF provide grants totaling more than $8 million dollars to support the work of 80 nonprofit organizations. These grants are part of Disney’s “Reverse the Decline” initiative, which pairs the company’s philanthropic dollars with professional expertise from Disney’s Animals, Science, and Environment team and other employees to maximize the impact of conservation efforts to protect wildlife and wild places.
DCF actively supports the world’s leading conservation organizations with funds and professional resources to save wildlife and habitats, inspire action, and protect the planet. This commitment is reflected through the fund’s comprehensive focus on stabilizing and increasing the populations of 10 different at-risk animals including apes, butterflies, coral reefs, cranes, elephants, monkeys, rhinos, sea turtles, sharks and rays, and tigers. DCF also provides grants to support conservation programs that engage communities in comprehensive solutions that serve people, wildlife and habitats.
This year’s grantees are working in 34 countries to lead incredible conservation programs, including:
California Condor Nest Guarding Program- Santa Barbara Zoological Foundation: In 1986 only nine condors remained in the wild. Santa Barbara Zoo and partners are working to increase California condor populations through captive breeding, careful management, education programs with local communities and research to encourage self-sustaining populations through the California Condor Nest Guarding Program.
Rewilding Australia with Tasmanian Devils– Global Wildlife Conservation: Non-native species threaten the survival of many native Australian wildlife species and as a result, impact ecosystems and human livelihoods. Global Wildlife Conservation is working to reverse the decline of the Tasmanian devil on the Australian mainland and re-establish it as an apex predator, while raising public awareness about challenges faced by Australia’s wildlife.
Seagrass Surveys for Education and Conservation– Marine Resources Development Foundation: Seagrass beds are diminishing worldwide, but serve a critical role in coastal ecosystems by stabilizing sediments and providing food and habitat for marine wildlife. The Marine Resources Development Foundation is leading seagrass surveys in the Florida Keys to monitor and understand ecosystem health, and engaging students and teachers from around the country in hands-on field work, data analysis and classroom curriculum to raise awareness about seagrass habitat conservation.
In addition to financial support, more than 180 Disney cast members and employees are lending their time to these efforts and have participated directly in projects to save wildlife around the world.
Since 1995, the DCF has:
Helped to conserve more than 400 species around the world.
Supported more than 2,000 conservation projects, helping more than 600 nonprofit organizations working hand-in-hand with communities to protect wildlife worldwide.
Recognized 150 Disney Conservation Heroes for their efforts to protect wildlife living alongside their communities in 47 countries.
The majority of funding is provided by The Walt Disney Company and supplemented by Guest contributions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and select Walt Disney World Resort locations.
For a complete list of the most recent DCF grant recipients, visit www.disney.com/conservation.