Wild births, birthdays at Walt Disney World

Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcomes newest inhabitants

The newest resident of the savannah made her debut Wednesday at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

Aella (“eye-la”), a two-month-old Masai giraffe calf, stepped out into the heart of the expansive Kilimanjaro Safaris savannah for the first time, exploring her surroundings with mother, Lily and dad, George.

Born June 29, the calf is nearly six feet tall. She had previously spent a month bonding with her mother in an on-site habitat.

Guests can get an up-close look at Aella, Lily, George, and a host of other animals on the park’s Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction.

Earlier this month, the park welcomed a baby mandrill, born on August 8 to mom, Scarlett, and dad, Winston. Mandrills are the largest and one of the most colorful species of monkey, and can also be seen as part of the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction.

Park visitors may be able to catch a glimpse of Scarlett, the baby and Winston on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

The birth is the result of a match made through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) by Disney Animal Operations manager Rebecca Phillips, who serves as the SSP coordinator for mandrills and consults on mandrill breeding for zoos around the world.

The births come during a summer of celebrations. The park recently marked the first birthday of the first Sumatran tiger cubs born at the park, Anala and Jeda. To mark the special occasion, Disney’s animal care team created a birthday-themed enrichment treat – a “cake” made for them to gnaw and paw.  

In the past year, the cubs have grown from 2-3 pounds to more than 160 pounds. They have hit all their development milestones and enjoy learning to be tigers – they practice hiding, creeping and pouncing on mom and each other.

Disney’s experts can confirm that Anala and Jeda act like siblings. They have a special bond but differ in many ways. Anala is feisty and independent in spirit. Jeda is more laid back. Guests continue to enjoy watching the tiger family play and explore their habitat on the Maharajah Jungle Trek.  

The birth of the Sumatran tiger cubs was a remarkable event that took nearly three years of planning through the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and ensures responsible breeding.

Fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild due to threats such as habitat loss, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has provided more than $2.5 million to 14 nonprofit organizations working to protect tigers and their habitats in the wild.

Guests can see Sohni, Malosi and their cubs on the Maharajah Jungle Trek and learn more about tigers by visiting DisneyAnimals.com.

Anala and Jeda enjoy their birthday "cake".

Categories: Disney