Fascinating Facts About Kissimmee’s Awesome Animals

A sloth hanging upside down

Kissimmee is home to all kinds of incredible animals, from highflyers to creepy crawlers and everything in between. While our animal friends are currently staying safe at home, we thought it would be fun to share some interesting info about them with you. That way, when our attractions open back up in the near future, you’ll be full of fascinating facts to share about the animals found right here in Kissimmee.

Sloth and Steady Wins the Race

Here in Kissimmee, there are some animal friends who aren't letting anything get to them — and our sloth sidekicks at Wild Florida are at the top this list. Sloths have a reputation for being many things: cute, tree dwellers, and, most famously, very slow. In fact, they’re the slowest-moving creatures on Earth, and would lose a race against a giant tortoise, and even a snail. At top speeds, they might travel 41 yards per day. But don’t mistake their slowness for laziness — their pace actually helps them survive in the wild.

A sloth’s most-loved meal consists mostly of leafy greens. And while they definitely find leaves delicious, they also indulge in fruit flies as well. Since they have a very slow metabolism, their food intake is minimal. They need to conserve energy whenever they can, which means moving slowly and as little as possible. Luckily, this relaxed pace comes with a real bonus: excellent camouflage from predators that rely on sight and movement to hunt. After all, it’s hard to catch what you can’t see!

Penguins Love to Go Tobogganing

The penguins at SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando are feeling very chill these days. Though, to be fair, they’re chill every day! Penguins are famous for their waddle and have mastered walking on slippery surfaces. But did you know that waddling isn’t always their preferred (or most efficient) mode of transportation? When penguins want to get somewhere in a hurry, they go tobogganing. Of course, they don’t have those cool sleds that humans have, so they have to improvise by lying on their bellies and push using their feet and flippers. Before long, they’re slip-sliding away!

Tobogganing is a fast means of travel for penguins, but they do need to walk on those webbed feet of theirs from time to time. Too much tobogganing can damage their plumage, which can impact their ability to stay insulated and protected from the elements.

When they’re not tobogganing, penguins also enjoy swimming — and they’re very good at it. Some penguins can top 20 miles per hour under the water. However, the ones that live in Kissimmee take things a little more slowly, typically reaching speeds anywhere from four to seven miles per hour.

Kissimmee is an Albino Alligator Paradise

Florida is known for its big green gators, but did you know there are also albino alligators at Wild Florida and Gatorland? These beautiful animals are very rare in the wild. That’s because their snow-white skin (caused by a lack of melanin) makes blending in with their surroundings a challenge. But here in Kissimmee, we think standing out is a good thing. That’s why we’re happy to be home to five albino alligators — which is almost half of all albino alligators in human care on Earth!

Blizzard and Snowflake have called Wild Florida home since May 2017. Here, they live in a state-of-the-art facility, complete with climate control to keep them comfortable and allow plenty of shade (which is essential, since their unique skin makes them sensitive to sunlight).

Meanwhile, albino alligators Cottontail, Moonshine, and Pearl are right at home in Gatorland. (In fact, you may know Pearl from her YouTube videos. She’s kind of a big deal.) Plus, you’ll also find two leucistic gators, Ferris Zombi and Trezo Je.

What’s the difference between an albino alligator and a leucistic alligator? Great question! Albino alligators have a complete absence of melanin in their skin. In contrast, leucistic alligators only have a partial lack of melanin — meaning they have splashes of color across their bodies.

Flamingos Have a Secret They’re Hiding

If albino gators are known for a lack of color, the flamingos at Gatorland and SeaWorld Orlando are definitely known for their vibrant pink plumage. These bright feathers are caused, in part, by the high levels of beta-carotene in the crustaceans and plankton they eat. Combine this with the fact that adult flamingos typically stand four to five feet in height on surprisingly skinny legs and you’ll find they’re hard to miss. So, you might be surprised to learn that most flamingos are hiding something from you under their wings.

When a flamingo takes flight, you’ll notice their flight feathers (the feathers on the underside of their wings) are black. These feathers help flamingos generate the thrust and lift they need for takeoff. This may surprise you since flamingos are generally thought of as wading birds, but they are excellent flyers and can reach top speeds of 35 miles per hour.

Macaws Are Real Love Birds

Macaws — another colorful type of bird — always catch people’s attention when they’re flying through Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. After all, they can grow up to three-and-a-half feet in length. These birds of a feather are almost always seen flocking together in pairs. That’s because macaws pick partners, usually around the age of three or four, and stay with them for life. They share their food, help each other with grooming, and care for their young together like a couple of love birds!

But it’s not just their mates that give macaws heart eyes — they’re also environment lovers. Macaws are known for promoting healthy forest development in the wild. They do this by dropping seeds they are eating on the ground which encourages growth and helps the ecosystem. Colorful, considerate, and environmentally conscious? It’s no wonder we’re so fond of macaws.

We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about some of the amazing animals that call Kissimmee home, and we’re looking forward to sharing more stories with you again soon! Until then, you can keep in touch with us and follow more furry, scaly, and feathery friends on our Instagram and Facebook pages.