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Credit: Disney

SPECIAL: Baby Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Who doesn’t love a good baby photo? Well, just as adorable are baby photos from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In honor of Earth Day and Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s birthday, Disney is sharing the backstory to some adorable baby photos. Catch all the details below.


Disney Cast Member David Roark shares more below:

April is Earth Month, a celebration that holds a special place in the hearts of Disney cast members, particularly since Disney’s Animal Kingdom debuted on Earth Day, April 22, 1998. This month, we’ll be sharing great stories from the wildest Walt Disney World Resort theme park … starting today with some of my all-time favorite animal photos.

As a Disney photographer for nearly 40 years, I’ve been privileged to take photographs of the wildlife at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since the park’s very beginning. I’m in awe of the magic of nature and my favorite subject is baby animals – there’s nothing quite like watching a zebra foal or a giraffe calf take their first hesitant steps, or seeing a mother gorilla hold her infant in her arms. Case in point …

Credit: Disney

I took these photos last May only a few hours after a mother gorilla, Kashata, gave birth to her baby, Grace. I just love these tender moments as mom and baby bond. In the top image, check out how her little arm cuddles mom and they both have a totally contented, peaceful look on their faces.

Credit: Disney

What speaks to me in the second photo is Kashata’s huge hand carefully embracing Grace. The soft lighting and monochromatic background really help the pair stand out, too. And I think all parents can relate to both the joy and relief of having a newborn snuggle into your chest as you both drift off to sleep. It’s hard to believe it’s almost Grace’s first birthday, and I can’t wait to go back to Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and see how much she’s grown.

Credit: Disney

This next one is an example of fortune smiling down on me. I was using a 600mm, super-telephoto lens to capture these 4-month-old baby Sumatran tigers, Anala and Jeda, at play back in late 2017. With that long a lens, it’s easy to miss some of the minor details in a scene when you are actually taking the photos. The cubs were about 50 yards away when I snapped this picture of them playing together in the shade next to their mom, Sohni.

I knew I had something good, but I didn’t realize just how good until I returned to my office and looked at the images on a big screen. That’s when I saw … one of the cubs had the other’s tail in its mouth! I laughed out loud when I saw this picture up close, and it still brings me joy to this day.

I figure we can all use a little joy in our lives right now, so I hope you like these photos as much as I do.

RELATED ARTICLE: SPECIAL: What Happens to the Animals While Disney World is Closed?

by Chad and Cindy Nykamp

During Walt Disney World closures, such as during hurricanes and now because of COVID-19, one question that gets asked a lot is, “Who is taking care of the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?” Well, Disney has released an update on their care of the animals during the temporary closure and also shared some exciting baby animal news! Catch all the details below.


Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Dr. Mark Penning:

I wanted to share an update on our beloved wildlife. Although Walt Disney World Resort is temporarily closed, Disney’s Animal Care team is continuing to provide top-notch care to the thousands of animals who roam our savanna and seas. We are diligently following state and federal guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our dedicated team.

Check out a video that shares more about the amazing work our cast members are doing to ensure our animals continue to thrive at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.


[Welcome] the newest addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a baby prehensile-tailed porcupine.

Credit: Disney

The baby, known as a porcupette, was born to mom, Peri, on Feb. 25. If you’ve seen the One Day at Disney documentary on Disney+, you may remember seeing Peri participate in an ultrasound with Disney veterinarian Dr. Natalie. And after a long-awaited arrival, the team is delighted to welcome this cutie to the Disney family.  Here’s a closer look:


Cast members like Walt Disney World Veterinarian Dr. Natalie provide continual care for Peri – from annual exams to pregnancy check-ups, the birth of her porcupette, and of course, post-partum care.

Porcupettes are covered in a fine red fur coat, but they’re also born with their tiny quills underneath, which begin to harden hours after birth. Those quills are actually what helped the team determine the baby’s gender. And guess what? It’s a girl!

Coming to this conclusion required science and more than just a neonatal exam from the veterinary team. Prehensile-tailed porcupines have internal sex organs, so to determine the baby’s gender, the team actually had to send some of her tiny quills off to a lab for DNA testing.

Credit: Disney

As with all of our animals, there are plenty of big hearts caring for this little mother-daughter duo. Peri continues to thrive in her role as a mother, which is part of why she was chosen to breed through the Species Survival Plan (SSP). This program is overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and ensures responsible breeding and genetic diversity of thousands of species of animals.

With so many families at home together right now, we look forward to sharing more stories and insights about our animals and amazing cast who are caring for them.  If you don’t already do so, please follow my Instagram @DrMarkAtDisney, where we’ll share #BetterTogether learning opportunities soon.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


About Chad & Cindy Nykamp

After years of multiple Walt Disney World vacations, Cindy and Chad's dream of living in Orlando came true in 2010. After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Chad and Cindy have been Disney World Annual Passholders for years, DVC members, together have raced more than 70 runDisney races, and particularly love cruising on the Disney Cruise Line. Chad and Cindy also regularly represent at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, they get an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World. These experiences have helped them gain knowledge and expertise they happily pass on to their followers. They still can't believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!