Disney Cast Member Shares How Team Protects Wildlife in Florida and Around the World

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is more than a theme park; it is an example of our longstanding commitment to helping promote environmental conservation and protect wildlife and wild places around the world.

It’s also a place where passionate scientists and educators – like conservation manager Dr. Zak – lead scientific programs to conserve biodiversity in Disney’s backyard and beyond. Along with a team of scientists and researchers from Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, Dr. Zak has helped expand conservation efforts beyond Disney’s Animal Kingdom through programs including habitat protection, grants, rescue and rehabilitation, and community outreach.

Caring for Our Planet

Dr. Zak leads the terrestrial conservation programs for plants and their pollinators, such as bees, birds, and butterflies. His job at Walt Disney World Resort focuses on his research as an ecologist and evolutionary biologist, where he studies conservation, ecosystems, and pollination. At Disney, Dr. Zak is joyously accompanied by a “symphony of insects” every day as he works.

Dr. Zak is passionate about inspiring the next generation of scientists and conservation experts, because he himself developed an interest in animals at a young age. He continued studying animals in college, eventually traveling to study global conservation efforts in Costa Rica, Greenland, and Kenya.

Walt Disney’s Commitment to Conservation

Dr. Zak was drawn to work at Disney because of its enduring dedication to conservation. Fifty years ago, when Walt Disney purchased land in Florida, he set aside a third of the land for animal and environmental conservation efforts to “connect all of Walt Disney World to the wilderness around it,” as Dr. Zak put it.

Dr. Zak is incredibly proud to have contributed to Walt Disney’s conservation legacy, which has protected more than 1,000 species throughout the years. You can find evidence of Walt Disney’s dedication to wildlife and the environment in the films he created – Walt Disney won twenty-three Academy Awards, and half were films about nature. Nature continues to inspire Disney movies, like “Moana,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” and “The Lion King”. Because of this legacy, Dr. Zak tries every day “to see how we can help be the best stewards of our environment here at Walt Disney World and across all of our Disney properties.”

Dr. Zak in animal exhibit

Dr. Zak plans to study animals, insects, and their environments around the world for the rest of his life. He hopes to “go to Indonesia, Congo, or tropical forest in Asia or Africa” next to study their environment and animals because he believes conservation is about “a global community all working together” to care for the planet. This support is just one example of Disney’s company-wide commitment to help change our planet’s story, something we call Disney Planet Possible. To learn more about the meaningful actions we take to make sure people, plants, and animals all have a healthy planet, visit DisneyPlanetPossible.com.