Animal keepers lined the street last Sunday morning cheering as the first runner in the Walt Disney World Marathon entered Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As the temperature rose, animals, wearing their own race bibs, joined the keepers to encourage runners to “Look Alive” and “Keep Hoofin’ It.”
The keepers and animals are a part of the team at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and guests can visit them every day in the park. You can immerse yourself in the science and technology of animal care, interact with animals and meet our talented Cast of animal keepers, veterinarians, nutritionists and scientists all at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. There are many reasons to visit, but here are my top 10!
- Up-close animal encounters: At Conservation Station, be on the lookout for keepers with animals! Get up close and learn more about a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates from our animal care experts.
- Wilderness Explorer badges galore: Rafiki’s Planet Watch is home to six of the 31 possible badges you can earn to become a Senior Wilderness Explorer, including the Veterinary and Conservation badges.
- Learn about the science behind our animal care: Visit the Science Center inside Conservation Station, and you might observe a box turtle or a rare breed of chicken being trained to recognize different shades of color. This helps us learn more about how the animals think and view the world. You can also see how the research team monitors animal well-being using behavior and hormones. This helps us provide the best and most specialized care for our animals.
- Exceptional animal care: Throughout the day, our veterinary cast perform check-ups, exams and procedures in the veterinary window. You may see a native Florida bird, painted dog, Komodo dragon or even a lion.
- Menu magic: Talk to an animal nutritionist and learn how team members create diets with more than 9,000 pounds of food, feeding more than 1,500 animals daily. Interesting fact: our animals enjoy the same quality produce our restaurants receive.
- Bonding opportunities: Grab a brush and spend time petting and grooming barnyard friends like goats, sheep and pigs at Affection Section. You might even see Tiana, an alpaca.
- World-saving efforts: At Conservation Corner, you can learn more about the actions the Disney Conservation Fund is taking to save animals and habitats around the world, and even see items like the telescope Jane Goodall used to observe chimps in the wild.
- Showstoppers: Learn about Walt Disney’s commitment to animals and nature in the “It All Started with a Mouse” show and see some of the animal species that inspired Disney classics like “Bambi.”
- Surprises: Keep an eye out on the pathway between the Wildlife Express Train and Conservation Station to see monkeys including Geoffreys’s marmosets and emperor tamarins. You can also see golden lion tamarins and cotton-top tamarins, both of which are a part of Disney’s “Reverse the Decline” efforts.
- Disney friends: Wise Rafiki from “The Lion King” can be found at Conservation Station for photos and autographs.
The next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, board the Wildlife Express Train in Africa and discover the magic of Rafiki’s Planet Watch!