Disney’s involvement with the Los Angeles Zoo began even before the L.A. Zoo’s current facility in Griffith Park opened in 1966. Over more than half a century, dozens of memorable Disney characters have been inspired by animals at the L.A. Zoo including those featured in Bambi, The Lion King, and Zootopia.
Disney and the Zoo have been neighbors for decades, and the presence of Disney animators sketching animals at the L.A. Zoo has been a regular activity. It’s not uncommon to spot Disney artists spending their lunch hour with sketchpad in hand at an exhibit, or speaking with animal care staff to learn about the behaviors of a particular species.
Disney and the Los Angeles Zoo also share a commitment to animal conservation, and the Disney Conservation Fund has supported a significant L.A. Zoo program dedicated to the conservation and recovery of the globally threatened Javan warty pig species.
“The company instills a love for animals among the very young,” says Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association President Connie Morgan, “and also provides important resources to ensure that threatened and endangered species will be thriving when these young people have children of their own.”
Barely a month goes by at the L.A. Zoo without Disney making an impact on the institution and its visitors. In the recent past, they shared a “larger than life” Eliot from Pete’s Dragon, created a fun and engaging learning activity in connection with Disneynature’s Born in China for the Zoo’s Wild for the Planet celebration, and, most recently, are teaching visitors young and old about animals of Mexico in connection with release of their new animated feature Coco.
Disney VoluntEARS frequently donate their time and talent in working on animal enrichment items to help provide the environmental stimuli necessary for the optimal well-being of the animals in our care.
The tradition continued this holiday season at L.A. Zoo Lights, when visitors had an opportunity on opening night to take a selfie wielding a colorful lightsaber to commemorate the arrival of Star Wars: The Last Jedi as well as a chance strike up a conversation with Disney staff coming together on a special night to support the Zoo and usher in the holidays.
L.A. Zoo Lights brings family and friends together at a magical time of the year, and we are grateful to The Walt Disney Company for adding more than just a bit of sparkle to the Los Angeles Zoo and the community we serve.