In celebration of the release of The Lion King, The Walt Disney Company has announced The Lion King: Protect the Pride: a global conservation initiative dedicated to supporting and protecting the endangered lion population across Africa.
Since the release of the original The Lion King 25 years ago, over half of Africa’s lions have disappeared from the wild, according to the campaign website. The Lion Recovery Fund was created by the Wildlife Conservation Network, with a goal to reverse this decline and double the lion population by 2050. Their aim is to not only combat the devastating effects of poaching and habitat decline, but also supporting the well-being of the savanna, wildlife and local communities in the continent.
Disney has already donated over $1.5 million to the LRF and its partners. This year, in celebration of the release of The Lion King, Disney will be inviting fans to help them double this figure, for a total contribution goal of up to $3 million.
As part of the campaign, Disney will be releasing special, limited-edition merchandise. This includes a pair of colorful Simba and Nala plushes, with every one sold leading to a $5 donation by Disney to the Wildlife Conservation Network. Limited to 40,000, the plushes are now on sale in selected Disney Stores worldwide, so watch out for those! Also, available now is the new book The Art and Making of The Lion King – a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the upcoming movie – which Disney is celebrating with a $25,000 donation to the fund.
Not only that, but the Disney Conservation Fund has pledged to donate $2 for every guest who rides Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom between July 19 and 25, the opening week of The Lion King. So, if you’re trekking through Animal Kingdom that week, make sure to take a break from hunting down all those tasty The Lion King-inspired treats and go and take a ride through the savanna!
As stated by Elissa Margolis, senior vice president, Enterprise Social Responsibility for The Walt Disney Company: “Disney is committed to supporting lion conservation efforts and we believe The Lion King is the perfect story to remind us of the role each of us has in ensuring a world where these majestic animals are treasured and protected. Conservation has always been a core value of The Walt Disney Company and that commitment is apparent in everything from our films to our theme parks and is why we created the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF). Through the stories we tell and the experiences we create, we have the power to reach people around the world and inspire them to take action with us.”
The Lion King will be released in theaters on July 19. If you would like to donate to the cause or find out more, visit The Lion King: Protect the Pride website here.