Cast Members at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park in Orlando sadly revealed the passing of Dugan, one of its white rhinoceroses. Dugan moved to Animal Kingdom in 2018 and lived a five-year residency in view of Disney Parks Guests. Animal Kingdom Cast Members take the care of their animals very seriously, and they worked to give Dugan the best life possible while also helping to repopulate the white rhino species.
White rhinos were endangered, but according to the World Wildlife Fund, “After more than a century of protection and management, they are now classified as Near Threatened.” Approximately 18,000 live in protected areas and reserves, and luckily white rhinos are the only rhino species not considered endangered.
Disney’s commitment to nature and the environment is contributing to keeping the white rhino population up. Before Dugan passed away, he fathered three offspring named Logan, Mylo, and Ranger. This was possible through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, where animals are managed away from the wild to establish and achieve population goals. The overall goal is to create biologically sound populations for animals that are struggling.
Animals like Dugan help create a discourse about environmentalism, conservation, and the different creatures of the world. During his time at Animal Kingdom, Dugan helped Guests learn facts about white rhinos, such as they are Earth’s second-largest land animal, come from Africa, love savanna areas in grasslands, and that a group of rhinos is called a herd or a crash.
While white rhinos can live up to 40 – 50 years, Dugan lived only to the age of 28. Before coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, he was born at the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, and later moved to the Erie Zoo in Pennsylvania. He passed away on the morning of June 1.
Through the Species Survival Plan, including animal nutrition, endocrinology, vet care, and animal care/training, Disney Parks is doing its part to assist the responsible breeding of in-need animal species. Thanks to animals like Dugan, Guests can continue to enjoy the beautiful white rhinoceros and learn about keeping the population alive for future generations of people as well as animals.