SA wildlife man's Disney dream job

Walt Disney Co.’s. Picture: AFP.

Veterinarian Mark Penning got the call of a lifetime four years ago from none other than Disney. At the time, he says he had a dream job running the Association for Marine Biological Research in Durban. He says it was like living in paradise. So when he got the call it was a tough decision.

I had worked with the Disney folks over the years on various issues relating to veterinary medicine in wild animals.

Mark Penning, Head of Animals, Science and Environment at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

But when they offered him a job as head of Animals, Science and Environment at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, it was hard to refuse.

He went over to America a few times to meet with Disney and get to know the company, and he was really impressed by what he saw.

I'm very much driven by passion for doing something special - helping connect people and nature.

Mark Penning, Head of Animals, Science and Environment at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Penning says the company is enormous with many parks and resorts the world over. I am based at Disney's Animal Kingdom, which is this most magnificent expression of how people and animals and nature can live together.

My job is to look after the animals wherever they may be.

Mark Penning, Head of Animals, Science and Environment at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

He says Disney places great store in making sure their animal films like The Jungle Book, Finding Nemo and many others, are factually correct.

So my team looks at all those scripts and makes sure that we are telling the right stories, and that we are telling them correctly.

Mark Penning, Head of Animals, Science and Environment at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

His team are very responsible stewards of the environment around the world and so focus on ways to use water and power responsibly.

The other area they focus on is many conservation projects in 115 countries .

We have contributed $40 million into saving species and habitats.

Mark Penning, Head of Animals, Science and Environment at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Listen to the interview below:


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