Disneyland is possibly one of the most famous places on the planet. The amusement park has six official locations around the world, along with several other recreational parks and resorts owned by the Disney Company. It's been called "The Happiest Place on Earth," and it has been the dream of children all around the world to visit one of these parks so they can hang out with some of their favorite cartoons like Goofy, Donald Duck, Cinderella, and of course, the one and only Mickey Mouse.
Unbeknownst to most people, however, is what happens in the park when the gates close for the evening and night falls upon the rides. It turns out that at night, the park is home to an army of cold-blooded killers, constantly on the prowl for fresh meat. They lurk in the deepest, darkest corners of the park, using their sharp claws and raw animal instinct to flush out their prey before ruthlessly eliminating them.
Ok, ok, so maybe I got a little carried away here. Disneyland's nighttime residents may be hunters, but they're not really scary at all - they're a bunch of cute, fluffy kitties. This is the story of the feral cats of Disney.
Everyone knows Disneyland is the "Happiest Place on Earth," and is possibly one of the most popular destinations in the world for children adults, and Super Bowl winners.
Disney has given us a lot of great animal characters over the years, but the most famous are undoubtedly the world's favorite mice, Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Less well-known, however, are the hundreds of wild cats that roam the grounds virtually unseen by most tourists.
As far as anyone knows, the cats have been there since the park opened in 1955. Most large, urban parks tend to attract populations of feral cats, and Disneyland was no different. They were first discovered in the main castle while Walt Disney was planning out the Castle Walkthrough.
Now, Walt was a clever guy - you don't get to be where his name is today without that. He realized that conventional methods of getting rid of the cats would cause a public outrage over his newly opened park ...
He also recognized that the park, with its many food stalls and visitors, had created a literal trail of breadcrumbs for local rodents and the park was starting to have a rat problem.
Knowing that feral cats are excellent natural hunters, he allowed the cats to stay in the park to help manage the rodent population.
They were (and still are) cleaned up by the staff and given medical care as needed.
There are also several discreet feeding stations located throughout the park to supplement their diet when the hunting isn't enough.
The park tries to keep areas where the cats congregate hidden from most staff and visitors to limit potentially dangerous interactions between the two. Feral cats, on their own part, tend to avoid humans anyway.
There are around 200 cats living in the park currently. A few years ago, Disneyland partnered up with FixNation, a non-profit organization providing free animal birth control. Using a system of TNR, or trap, neuter/spay, return, they keep the population manageable, while only minimally interfering with the cats.
If they notice a cat is starting to socialize with humans more than normal, it is put up for adoption. The same goes for any kittens accidentally born in the park.
Although Disneyland doesn't really publicize their feral cat population too much, there is an official website, as well as an Instagram page dedicated to them. They also have a couple of fun t-shirts inspired by the wild cats.
There are plenty of examples out there of big companies who decided to be far less humane when tackling feral cats on their property. It's awesome to see that Disney has taken a much more cat-friendly approach. Next time you're at Disneyland, keep your eyes out and you may just spot one of these majestic hunters yourself.