To celebrate the release of Disney’s The Lion King, the upcoming groundbreaking feature film helmed by Jon Favreau, The Walt Disney Company has launched a global conservation campaign to raise awareness of the crisis facing lions and other wildlife across Africa. The Lion King “Protect the Pride” campaign focuses on protecting and revitalizing lion populations and the habitats they need to thrive.

Disney has already donated more than $1.5 million to the Wildlife Conservation Network’s (WCN) Lion Recovery Fund (LRF) and its partners and will make additional grants as well as invite fans to help double the donation for a total contribution of up to $3 million. Fans may participate by taking part in celebratory experiences and purchasing special-edition products, as part of The Lion King Protect the Pride campaign.

It’s been 25 years since Disney released the original version of The Lion King; sadly, during that time Africa has lost half of its lions, and only about 20,000 remain. Disney is supporting the Lion Recovery Fund and their vision to double the lion population by 2050 through efforts that engage communities to ensure a brighter future for African wildlife and their habitats. Protecting lions supports the entire circle of life in Africa, from hyenas to meerkats. Lions face rising threats; however, research shows their numbers can be strengthened if they and the habitats they share with people and other African wildlife are adequately protected. Said 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 we each have in helping ensure 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. 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 Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) has directed $75 million to save wildlife globally since 1995, including $13 million to protect African wildlife spanning more than 30 countries. The Lion King Protect the Pride donation will be DCF’s largest single contribution in its 24-year history, supporting WCN’s Lion Recovery Fund and their work to engage people in conservation solutions. The Lion Recovery Fund supports a variety of partner organizations working in Africa and employs a three-pronged approach to lion recovery: investing in conservation projects on the ground, developing campaigns that build support for the protection and revitalization of Africa’s lion populations, and expanding and strengthening collaborations, as no single entity will be able to solve this challenge alone.

Related: New Lion King Footage Stuns CinemaCon Crowd with the Circle of Life

As a kickoff to The Lion King Protect the Pride campaign, Disney and WCN convened more than 80 leading lion conservation experts this past May at the Lion Footprint Forum at Walt Disney World® Resort, the first meeting of its kind in 20 years, aimed at expanding collaboration to grow conservation impact. Participants from 18 countries and representing more than 50 organizations and foundations discussed challenges impacting lion populations across lion range countries and strategies to address them. Resulting ideas and project proposals will be considered for support through the LRF. Said Charles Knowles, President and Co-Founder of Wildlife Conservation Network.

“The Lion Recovery Fund has a vision to bring lions back across Africa, and Disney’s powerful storytelling is a perfect way to get even more people aware of the lion crisis and inspired to take action. The Wildlife Conservation Network is proud to continue its longstanding collaboration with Disney to make a meaningful impact for people and wildlife across Africa.”

Help Protect the Pride

It takes many different approaches, which differ by regions, habitats, and local communities, to help protect lion populations. Fans can explore The Lion King Protect the Pride website to learn more about The Lion King Protect the Pride campaign and find ways that they can get involved, including:

This summer, take part in Protect the Pride lion-related Disney experiences celebrating WCN’s LRF, like the Kilimanjaro Safaris® Expedition at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park in Florida during opening week of The Lion King film (July 19-25); purchase special-edition Simba and Nala plush lions available at certain Disney stores, on shopDisney.com, and in select U.S. Disney Parks and Resorts locations; Disney Theatrical Productions will celebrate with audiences on Broadway during the month of July, providing campaign information in Playbills® for The Lion King; learn about the history of Disney’s commitment to conservation in films and Disney Publishing Worldwide’s support of the campaign through The Art and Making of The Lion King book. Disney is supporting these and other global opportunities in South Africa, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

Support lion conservation efforts and learn more about the Lion Recovery Fund at lionrecoveryfund.org. Follow The Lion King, the Disney Conservation Fund, and the Lion Recovery Fund on social media to stay up to date on #TheLionKing #ProtectThePride campaign and share information with your friends and family about how they can help.

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