The "Rules" for Tour Guides at Disney's Animal Kingdom

by Carl Hiaasen as appeared April 23, 1998, in the Miami Herald


	
	At Disney, it's a wild, wild world

	Good morning, bwanas! Today's the day we finally open Disney's new Animal
	Kingdom theme park for the world.

	As tour guides, it's your job to make sure all visitors have fun. Many of
	you have never worked with real live critters, so let's go over the
	guidelines again.

	Number one: If your safari bus should encounter our wild animals acting
	like, well, wild animals, do not under any circumstances attempt to
	disconnect them, deprogram them or try to locate the "off" button.

	Remember, these are not the dancing country bears -- and they're probably
	not just dancing, anyway.

	I know it's a big adjustment for all of us here at Walt Disney World. In
	the old days, when a jungle beast went haywire we'd just replace a
	transistor. Not anymore.

	The wildlife here at Animal Kingdom sometimes will engage in public
	behavior that our guests might find puzzling or even disturbing -- behavior
	for which (I'm ashamed to say) a few of our human "cast members" have
	been occasionally reprimanded.

	As tour guides, it's your duty not to let our visitors be distracted.
	Turning to page 17 of the manual, you'll find a detailed list of
	embarrassing animal antics, next to the officially scripted Disney
	explanations.

	Scratching, for instance. As you've undoubtedly noticed, our primates can
	be indiscreet in their personal scratching habits. Please try not to bring
	this to the attention of your safari guests.

	If, however, a guest observes this behavior and inquires, always refer to
	it as "grooming." Same goes for the licking -- those lions, I swear, they
	never give it a rest. . . . Just remember: "Grooming" is the operative
	word.

	Several of you asked about the poop issue. I passed along your concerns
	directly to Mr. Eisner's office, and I've been told there's not a darn
	thing to be done. We've got 1,000 animals roaming here and unless the folks
	in Imagineering come up with some amazing new gadget, there's going to be
	lots of poop.

	Hey, I'm on your side. Sixteen years I worked the Main Street Parade and we
	never had this problem, except for that one really obnoxious Pluto.
	
	And, yes, I'm well aware how much a full-grown elephant eats -- but try to
	deal with it, OK? "Droppings." That's the approved Disney term, whether
	it's from a hippo or a hummingbird.
	
	The next item is, sadly, animal mortality. As you know, we've already lost
	two rhinos, some rare birds, four cheetah cubs. It's made for a few
	unpleasant headlines, to be sure.

	But this is straight from the lawyers: Never use the terms "die" or
	"dead" on your Disney safari. If the tour bus passes an animal that
	appears not to be breathing, you may describe it as "lethargic,"
	"inactive," "dormant," or (for the youngsters) "napping."

	Finally, let's review the rules on animal sex. I don't know what genius
	decided to open this park in the springtime, but our animals are in quite
	the mood.

	Some of you heard what happened on Media Day -- a little problem with the
	Barbara Walters crew and that horny pair of wildebeests in quadrant seven.
	Without going into gory details, let's just say that ABC eventually was
	"persuaded" to give up the videotape.

	As safari guides, it's imperative to remember that this is a family
	attraction. Animals do not mate here. They "wrestle." They "clench."
	They "frolic." They "romp." They "nuzzle." And of course they
	"groom" each other, sometimes intimately.

	But they don't mate. They don't hump. They don't "do the nasty." Is that
	understood?

	Good. Now go out there and give these wonderful folks an authentic
	true-life jungle adventure, droppings and all! 






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