Protecting Pachyderms


It’s not often that Disney is mentioned on NPR, and even more rare that it should be featured on Science Friday.  So it’s exciting that Animal Kingdom’s Joseph Soltis was on air last week to highlight the efforts to understand elephant signals.  You have probably heard recently about research on animals skilled in sound, like do parrots dance, do whales quack, and are ravens secretly poised to take over the world.  (yes, kinda, and hell yes)  Along with all these, scientists have discovered that elephants have different warning sounds for different kinds of danger.  And while their response to a humans’ presence might make them alert and wary, the sound of bees will send them running.

Why should scientists be pestering elephants with the equivalent of a prank phone call, and why is Disney helping fund this research? Elephants are under threat not only from poachers but also from local farmers.  Understanding elephants’ alarm signals will help them build barriers to keep the animals away from crops, in this case a wire strung with bee hives. This is a low-cost and safe alternative for the farmers protecting their food, and a great alternative to elephant populations in conflict with villages.  Colonel Hathi’s cousins are large, gentle beasts with good hearts, but sometimes, they can be a little…JB2

The Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund matches donations and provides grants to environmental stewardship programs.  The Company has also been putting out a DisneyNature movie almost every year since 2007.  Those social media games are even involved, too – Where’s My Water teamed with freshwater preservation awareness and Animal Kingdom Explorers donated to Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee programs.

You were doing good and you didn’t even know it.

Listen to the 30 minute interview at


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