Saving threatened habitats worldwide

What is wrong with Disneyland?

12 October, 2011 - 15:49 -- John Burton

Someone I work with noted that I appeared to make disparaging remarks about Disneyland in a recent blog. For this I apologise, as I certainly wouldn't want to give that impression. I was equating Disneyland with a false reality, which indubitably it is, but that does not make it a bad thing. Masses of people prefer to go to Disneyland, Centreparks and many other 'attractions' that imitate nature, or provide thrills of various sorts.  This is great because if everyone wanted to go into the countryside, or into what remains of true nature, the latter would soon disappear.

If I am asked where is the most environmentally friendly place to have a holiday, the obvious answer would be in your back garden, of if you really must travel, somewhere you can get to in a couple of hours by train.  But as Simon Barnes has pointed out that is not entirely correct. Without tourism, some of the most wonderful wildlife haunts in the world would soon disappear. It's not just the tourism that's important, it is the fact that people care.

And back to Disneyland, it is also important to know that Disney does give some funding towards wildlife.

Discover which WLT supported reserves you can visit »


Submitted by Mandi on

As much as I hate zoo's (and I really do), Disney is actually one of the best in terms of conservation for wildlife, both land and marine - the latter, many organisations disregard. They do create some of the best enclosures for animals and research opportunities.
There are many zoos out there that have wonderous claims for their work in conservation, whereas the fact is - particularly in the UK - they merely have to send their staff on a training day and their legal obligation to contribute is complete, or indeed, start a breeding programme (when these animals and their offspring will never see the wild) under the guise of conservation, when in reality baby animals means higher gate tickets and more money spent in the gift shop!
To date Disney have donated $2.9 million to ocean research and protection of coral reefs, and so far in 2011 have donated $2 million to over 70 charities and NGO's.
I hate the 'disney-fication' of the animals - anthropomorphic use of animals, regretabley however, it generates money for conservation and advances within zoo design.
I would personally prefer fewer but dramatically better quality zoos - or bioparks, as they're changing to - and aquaria, that aids research, development and active conservation stratagies that work alongside governments worldwide (to aid the battle against wildlife crime and habitat loss), than the sheer volume of zoos we have now where the welfare and husbandry standards are questionable at best.

I'm a Zoo Animal Management degree student, studying this as well as wildlife conservation.

Submitted by Charlotte Beckham on

Dear Mandi,

Thank you very much for your comment. You may also be interested to read about the WLT's Wild Spaces Programme, which offers zoos, aquariums and their associations an opportunity to raise funds for in situ conservation.

You can find more information about this programme in our projects section

Charlotte Beckham

Web Content and Information Officer

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