|Dash waiting for the session to start|
My family and I had the pleasure of attending Disney’s Fall Student Seminar entitled Monkey Kingdom. The Student Seminar event is specifically created for homeschoolers and their families. Twice a year Walt Disney World offers homeschoolers the opportunity to visit and participate in a special session.
Monkey Kingdom was the theme of the session on Thursday, October 8, 2015. It was held in Animal Kingdom at the unheard of hour (for homeschoolers) of 8 AM. Because of the logistics of finding a facility large enough to accommodate the group that attended, the session was held before park opening at the Harambe Theater normally reserved for The Festival of the Lion King production.
|Jack-Jack deep in thought – answering questions before the session started.|
Something new for the homeschool session was the pre-games before the session started. My children answered questions about monkeys and “won” a button and a Monkey Kingdom poster. Then we were treated to three delightful speakers who used slides and personal experiences to keep us entertained and educated.
Rebecca has worked at Animal Kingdom since opening day, April 22, 1998. She has had the opportunity to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo to work the GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center).
Beth is an anthropologist. She has worked with primates for 20 years and at Disney for the past 17 years. Beth is going to be travelling to GRACE to work with the grauer gorilla. For more information about the GRACE gorilla program click here.
Rachel has been a Zookeeper for 20 years and has worked at Disney since the Animal Kingdom opening. Her specialty is primate carnivore.
|Our delightful speakers|
These three women shared information about prosimians which are nocturnal, are color blind to red and blues, and include ring tailed lemurs (which happen to be active during the day). We learned about New World Monkeys versus Old Work Monkeys, Apes versus monkey (which our family already knew via Veggie Tales – “If it doesn’t have a tail, it’s not a monkey.”), social primates, and social structure of monkey families/groups.
Unfortunately, we also learned about monkey greetings and communication. I say unfortunately, because for the past 4 days, Dash has been running around greeting us in monkey language and posture. He has also been grooming us by pretending to pick bugs off of us and eat them!
We also learned about what the handlers and zookeepers are doing at Disney to train monkeys and learn more about their communication and behavior. Not only does this help with monkeys, but it also enables them to work with other animals as well. They have been able to train a monkey suffering from periodontal disease to use a toothbrush and mouthwash.
The session ended promptly on time for the opening of Animal Kingdom. After the session the three women were available to answer additional questions. I enjoyed chatting with all three about their jobs. I asked if they always wanted to work with primates, and I was surprised to find that only Beth had intended to have a career with primates. Both Rachel and Rebecca originally had other plans for their lives.
I highly encourage you to attend a Student Seminar in the future. Walt Disney World employs exceedingly talented and passionate people. The next Student Seminar date will be January 28, 2016 at Epcot. The theme is Expedition D82. As soon as I have more information, I will share it with you.