The Maharajah Jungle Trek

My home. My trail. My animals. I have enjoyed every moment so far on the trail, even getting pooped on in the aviary and getting soaked from the rain. I thought I would write a post about the animals that we have and that I get to interact with every day, so without further ado- I present to you the Maharajah Jungle Trek! (Long post ahead, you have been warned!)

Up first is my beloved Komodo Dragon. We have three at Animal Kingdom, two on our trail and one up at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. On our trail we have Ghidorah and Lima. Ghidorah is 6 years old and about seven feet long and his mother Lima is 13 years old. Ghidorah’s sister Tia is at Rafiki’s because she is only about 4 feet long despite being the same age as her brother, and she could still escape from the enclosure on our trail. Komodo Dragons are dark in color, showcasing blacks and browns and even some yellow which makes them excellent at camouflaging in tall grasses and shrubbery. Komodo’s have about 50 different bacteria in their mouths which makes them incredibly dangerous. They can run about 13 miles per hour and are ambush predators, which means that they lay in wait for their prey before attacking. After getting a good bite in, the Komodo will track their prey for as long as it takes for them to succumb to the massive infection caused by their bite. They can track prey from up to a mile away using their built-in GPS system, otherwise known as the Jacobson’s Organ. Aside from being the most bad-ass animal I have ever learned about, I think they’re very cute. I’ve never had a problem with reptiles, and these guys are no exception. Lima has an air of royalty, when she lays out in the yard, she looks at you as though she knows that she is the queen. Ghidorah is still a fairly young Komodo, so I feel like whenever he looks at me he’s just annoyed, thinking, “ugh, please stop talking, you’re so annoying.” The Komodo’s have easily become my favorite animal, perhaps of all time.

Next up on the trail are the Lion -Tailed Macaque’s. We have four total, one boy and three girls. Jacuzzi is our 22 year old male, and then Dorothy, Emily, and one who’s name means “short tail” in German (that I don’t know how to spell.) These macaques are found in the Ghats Mountains in India and they only have about 1% of their natural habitat left. They are very interesting to watch, as most primates are, because they often display behaviors that are similar to our own. Our macaques are part of a breeding program so we are hoping for some babies with them! Immediately following Canyon 2 is Community Hall where you find our bats. They are called Malayan Flying Foxes and they are the largest fruit bat species in the world with a wingspan of about 5-6 feet on average. They can be found in Malaysia and Australia and are not nocturnal like we usually think of when we think about bats. Besides what they eat, that is kind of the main difference between the two major types of bats- fruit bats are awake and active during the day while insect-eating bats are nocturnal and use echolocation. Through the Wilderness Explorers Handbook you can discover that some bats are pollinators just like bees and butterflies and that insect eating bats can eat up to 600 insects in just one hour. We have nine males who are all later on in years, and enjoy just hanging out (heh, get it?) in their own little spots every day.

The Sumatran tigers make up the next three viewing areas on the trail- there’s overlook, glass, and bridge. From each of these spots you can see into our two tiger enclosures. We have two Sumatran tigers with us currently but there will soon be more, as Sohni is pregnant and due later this month! We are absolutely over the moon about the tiger cubs as not only will they be the first ever born here at Disney, but since there are only about 400 of them left in the world, they will be born into a much bigger Species Survival Program for the Sumantrans. Malosi is our male and he is almost nine years old. He weighs around 300 pounds and he is generally just a sweetheart and a ham. At the end of the day, you will find him up next to the windows at glass peeking in, or over on the hill at overlook posing for pictures- or I think that’s what he’s doing, the way he lays and turns his head to look over his shoulder. Sohni is six years old and only about 200 pounds and one of her favorite spots was to lay right under the glass windows on her back where her precious white belly would show. I know that it would have been my last moment, but I always just wanted to bury my face in her belly when she was being that cute. The tigers we have are both beautiful and majestic. They carry with them an air that cannot be described, and I understand why so many people revere them. It also fails me why anyone would ever hunt such a serene creature as these. It truly breaks my heart to know the situation they are in.

Further ahead on the trail you’ll find our hoofstock and some of our avian species. We have some Asiatic Water Buffalo, three young ladies who weigh in at 700 pounds now and will grow to be twice that. There are also Eld’s Deer and Blackbuck Antelope who look similar, but the deer are larger in size and the antelope are larger in number- we have 13 of them. We also have two Sarus Cranes, birds that stand about six feet tall with six foot wingspans, two Ruddy Shelduck that have a hard time being polite and sharing their space, and 19 Bar-Headed Geese (on my last count). The geese are some of my favorite birds because their migration patterns take them over the Himalayan Mountains! When you stand on the bridge, you get the opportunity to discuss all of the Belvedere animals, as we call them, as well as the tiger if they decide to make an appearance. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and you’ll have plenty of visibility on both sides, but that’s not always a good thing. Check out my story about my FIRST DAY and how Sohni almost had an early lunch.

Don’t worry, you’re nearing the end of the trail! All that’s left is the aviary. Inside we have around 25 different species, and over 200 birds. From small friends like the Hooded Pitta and the Green Winged Dove, to new members like the Blue Crowned Laughing Thrush and the Pale Headed Rosellas, to some of our more colorful characters like the Victoria Crowned Pigeons or the Lady Amherst Pheasant, I love the aviary. There is always activity and always something to listen to or see. True, it can feel like a sauna inside on hot days, and it’s one of the spots on the trail where I find myself repeating my words over and over- “please don’t touch the birds!”However, I love walking around and seeing all of the birds and observing their different personalities, which they really do have- the Masked Plovers are noisy and bossy, the Crested Wood Partridges are cute and kind, and the Pied Imperial Pigeons will aim at you. Some may complain, but I don’t mind pulling rotation because it means I get to visit one of my favorite locations on the trail.

Well…that’s it! Congrats, you made it! That wasn’t so bad, was it? As you walk along our trail, you’ll see the gorgeous theming coming alive around you as well, and it’s as much a part of us as our animals. Our trail is supposed to be the last ruins of the great Maharajah’s of Anandapur, and how the royalty did their best to preserve the natural habitats of the creatures that had lived within the forest. You walk though the “community hall” where town meetings would have taken place to see the bats, and the entire area dedicated to the tigers is supposed to look like a palace falling to pieces. The gorgeous details and murals on the walls plus the prayer flags hanging overhead truly take you to another land altogether. I may be biased, but I find our trail to be one of the most beautiful locations in the park.

This week I will be cross-trained at Gorilla Falls, our sister trail over in “Africa,” so soon I will be able to have a second installment of this post that will be all about those animals. For now, I’ll be focusing on learning a whole lot of new information about a whole new group of animals. Be on the lookout for more trail stories coming soon. I’m working on a small collection that I think everyone will enjoy.

Go well friends, until next time!

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