From time to time, we’ll post stories about how Disney helps protect wildlife and wild places, and I thought this particular project would be a fun one to share.
Recently, Disney Animal Programs cast members from Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends helped with the rescue of several cold-stunned Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles from Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts. The turtles were just some of many that were rescued from the Northeastern cold snap this past fall, which left hundreds of the cold-blooded animals lethargic and immobilized. Since the turtles’ arrival last month, they have been sharing the backstage space at The Seas with Nemo & Friends, where cast members conducted daily checks to keep an eye on the turtles’ progression and rehabilitation. The process to warm, rehabilitate and help the turtles regain their strength took several weeks, but success was achieved.
Last week, the turtles that received a clean bill of health and deemed strong enough to brave the ocean once more were taken to Canaveral National Seashore in Titusville, Florida, where Aquarist Tanya Kamerman released each turtle back into the wild. As Tanya approached the water, the smell of salt carried the promise of a nearby ocean in the air and the eager turtles, with flippers flailing in excitement, were taken to the beach. Each one was carried individually into the water to ease their transition back into the ocean. Resistance from the waves threatened to push the turtles back onto shore, so Tanya was careful to carry each one into the water to quickly acclimate with its natural habitat.
Collaborations with the U.S. Coast Guard, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, zoological institutions like the New England Aquarium and The Seas at Epcot have been integral in giving these turtles a second chance. In addition, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Rapid Response Fund has directed critical support to organizations driving these efforts, continuing Disney’s long legacy of conservation.