Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Disney+ docuseries produced by National Geographic premieres on September 25th, 2020. There are 8 weekly episodes and I have had the pleasure of previewing several of them. Much of the series is set in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, but the filmmakers do travel just a few miles away to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT. Making of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a delightful series, beautifully shot and for those of us familiar with the animals, even more special to see behind the scenes. Actor Josh Gad narrates in a pretty straightforward way with gentle humor.
Photo courtesy of Disney+
I’m going to focus on just one of the eight episodes for the review because there are a lot of stories throughout – and yet so few when considering Disney’s Animal Kingdom park has over 5000 animals. We have seen baby gorilla Grace very recently at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and the two photos below are mine. Her story – with her mom Kashata – are just one of several in this episode. Grace was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. We see her first here as a newborn baby and then during the filming, she was having problems with strength…not hitting all her milestones. For example, she was still being held by her mom instead of crawling onto her back. Behind the scenes, the keepers teach her to gain the strength she needs to hit those milestones and I saw Grace climbing onto her mom last month (below).
Here is a closer photo I took of baby Grace.
Another story from the show is about white rhinoceros Dugan, who gets a little scraped up after being introduced to some female rhinos. He is there for breeding purposes, this is discussed briefly before one of the female rhinos – Kendi, the first born in the park in 1999 – becomes pregnant. How do we know? Animal poop reveals the pregnancy. And not only that, but we found out a few days ago on World Rhino Day (September 22nd) that three of the rhinos are pregnant. Dugan has been very busy! Rhinos can take a year and a half to give birth, and Kendi is due in October. The other two rhinoceros, including Lola (who you will see in the show) are due next fall. This is part of breeding through the Species Survival Plans (SSPs), which are overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the responsible breeding of endangered species.
Photo from the Disney Parks Blog including Kendi and Lola
Those are just a little of two stories that are shown on Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This is a wonderful series and you don’t have to have any familiarity with Walt Disney World to enjoy it. The close-up look on animals and their lives and care is extraordinary. I really like seeing also the relationship between the animals and the keepers and doctors charged with keeping them healthy and engaged. It will add to my experience when visiting the park. This is a series for the whole family and I hope we will see another season.
Here is the official trailer.