Also joining the expedition is Anne Savage, Ph.D., Disney conservation biologist and Russ Mittermeier, Ph.D., president of Conservation International, both experts on primates. During their visit to China, they will study the golden monkey, a threatened species in China. "At Disney's Animal Kingdom, we are committed to conservation not only inside our park, but in habitats around the globe," said Savage.
While scientists are following animal tracks and cataloging plants, Disney Imagineers will be researching local beliefs and myths to enrich the storyline for Expedition Everest, a massive attraction under development at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida. To further explore new opportunities for linking culture and environmental protection, Disney will research the legend of the yeti, a creature whose traditional role as "protector of the sacred" has been integral to preservation in this region.
One of the world's hotspots, the Mountains of Southwest China stretch over 161,500 miles and are the most botanically rich temperate region in the world with an estimated 12,000 plant species, including 3,500 found nowhere else. The golden monkey, giant and red pandas are among the threatened species found only in this hotspot.
The biodiversity hotspots are 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planet's most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth's surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states). This habitat originally covered 15.7 percent of the Earth's surface, an area equivalent in size to Russia and Australia combined. New hotspot analysis shows that an estimated 50 percent of all vascular plants and 42 percent of terrestrial vertebrates exist only in these 34 hotspots.
Results from the expedition will be shared with numerous entities, such as the Chinese government,