One thing I will never criticize Disney about is the good work done by the Animal Kingdom and its sometimes-partner the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. The two might technically be separate entities – the Animal Kingdom is a part of Disney World, and the DWCF is a philanthropic branch of the Walt Disney Corporation – but they often work together.
Work together, of course, being an operative word. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is what it’s called: a fund. While some employees might actually go out and do something, the primary purpose of the division is to provide financial support for professional conservationists. In many cases, that goes to the efforts of scientists from the Animal Kingdom. At other times, it goes to outside parties.
There’s a notable recent example: while much of the time news from the DWCF focuses on what the group is doing for animals abroad, it makes efforts to help domestic animals as well. This past fall, the DCWF supported the International Fund for Animal Welfare with $250,000. This is yet another fund with the word “international” in its title, but in this case, the money went to Superstorm Sandy relief.
While much of the news about Sandy relief has, and should be, focused on efforts to save and aid the people affected by the disaster, humans aren’t the only ones affected. IFAW helped coordinate rescue efforts for pets, which included taking immediate care of pets for owners that couldn’t, housing and caring for those and for unclaimed pets, caring for pets until owners get back on their feet, reconnecting owners with missing pets, and more. They also have plans to create educational courses in disaster preparedness (including, of course, how to provide for one’s pets in a disaster).
IFAW has often been on the front line for animals in disasters, looking after both the domesticated and wild victims of everything from hurricanes to oil spills. DWCF’s involvement in IFAW’s efforts has always just been financial, but that’s still nothing to sniff at.
The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund does so much, in fact, that in 2012 it was named the Corporate Conservationist of the Year by the Florida Wildlife Federation. For the award, the fund’s efforts in Florida were the ones primarily considered, but they’re still nothing to sniff at:
-Studying dolphins and how humans impact them
-Studying the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on the local dolphin population
-Monitoring the northern right whale (monitoring helps both study the whales, of which there are less than 400 of this particular species, and is used to relay the whales’ location to ships, to avoid collisions)
-Coral restoration in the Florida Keys
Of course all of these efforts were merely funded (at least in part) by DWCF; the actual work was done by a variety of organizations, from the Chicago Zoological Society to the Coral Restoration Foundation. Even so, I’m glad that Disney has an arm dedicated to funding the efforts of such worthy groups. When I think about its efforts, I don’t mind giving money to a company that gives some of its money back for such causes.
*(The above image by AmazonCARES is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)