ThisFunktional Junior: September 2021

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(Info from press release)
  • On World Rhino Day (Sept. 22)—and every day—San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance works to bring increased awareness of rhinos, and the importance of conservation efforts to protect these iconic animals. 
  • This year, the Safari Park is celebrating the recent birth of a female southern white rhino calf born on Aug. 22 to first-time mom Kianga, and father J Gregory.
  • San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is inviting the public to help us name this curious and playful calf by visiting the Safari Park Facebook page Sept. 22-28 and commenting on their choice of three names: Kamaria (Cam-mar-e-uh) means beautiful like the moonlight in Swahili; Kifaru (Key-far-roo) means rhino in Swahili; Ilanga (E-long-a) means the sun in Xhosa. The name with the most ‘votes’ will be announced on Sept. 29.
  • The Safari Park is home to greater one-horned rhinos, black rhinos, and southern white rhinos—including the southern white rhino calf born Aug. 22. Baby rhinos are always cute and fun to watch grow—but more importantly, they serve as ambassadors for their species. Seeing a rhino up close allows our guests to connect with them, with the hope they gain a greater appreciation for rhinos, and the vital need to conserve and protect rhinos and their native habitats.
  • There are five species of rhino: white (estimated 18,000) and black (estimated 5,600) in Africa; greater one-horned (estimated 3,600), Javan (estimated 74) and Sumatran (estimated 80) in Asia. Rhino numbers are dwindling, primarily due to poaching and habitat loss. 
  • But not all is doom and gloom. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has been working for more than 40 years, along with other accredited zoos and collaborators worldwide, to conserve rhino populations in many ways—including supporting and funding anti-poaching units; participating in conservation breeding to  keep a sustainable population of rhinos safe under human care while working to protect them in their native habitats; working to bring about awareness of wildlife trafficking and the need for governments to enforce laws prohibiting wildlife crime; and working with local communities in the rhinos’ native habitats to help ensure there is active participation in wildlife conservation.
  • SDZWA’s current rhino conservation focus is dedicated to saving the northern white rhino through innovative reproductive technologies. Only two northern white rhinos remain on earth, residing at a wildlife conservancy in Kenya. Both are females and unable to reproduce naturally. 
  • To further this goal, the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center (NKRRC) was built at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Rhino Rescue Center is dedicated to the conservation of white rhinos, with a focus on assisted reproductive techniques.
  • Rhinos are very important to the ecosystems in which they reside. Southern white and black rhinos are mega-herbivores, grazing on grasses—which helps maintain the diverse African grasslands, increasing plant diversity and providing grazing areas for other animals that share their natural habitat, such as elephants, zebras, antelope and gazelles.
  • Guests visiting the Safari Park can be see rhinos in savanna habitats from the Africa Tram. Those looking for a unique experience may want to participate in a special visit to see the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center and meet the rhinos on the Rhinos and Friends Behind-the-Scenes Safari, or see rhinos on a Wildlife Safari or Cart Safari. Visit for more information.
  • Conservation is at the heart of everything San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance does each day. It starts with the connection made with our guests and the wildlife they experience on their visit to the Safari Park or Zoo. When wildlife thrives, all life thrives.
  • You can support SDZWA’s important rhino conservation work by becoming an ally for wildlife. Your ticket purchase and purchases made while visiting the Safari Park or Zoo, and/or your tax-deductible gift, helps save wildlife in San Diego and around the globe. For more information, visit
(Info from Press Release)

Launching on Disney+ on September 24, New Documentary Showcases the Filmmakers Behind Pixar’s Newly Released SparkShorts “Nona” and “Twenty Something”

Disney+ and Pixar Animation Studios shared a trailer today for the upcoming feature-length documentary “A Spark Story”—a co-production of Pixar and Supper Club that takes an intimate look at Pixar’s SparkShorts filmmaking process as two directors strive to get their uniquely personal SparkShorts visions on screen. Directed by Jason Sterman and Leanne Dare of Supper Club (“Chef’s Table”), and produced by Sterman, Brian McGinn and David Gelb in collaboration with Pixar, “A Spark Story” launches on Disney+ on Sept. 24, 2021. Says Sterman, “I think viewers will be most surprised by how much personal storytelling is involved in the Pixar filmmaking process. It takes so many people to bring one of these films to life, and you can feel the filmmakers’ personal touches in every aspect of the films. Hopefully ‘A Spark Story’ will give audiences a greater sense of the people and personalities who bring these types of films to life.” 
"A Spark Story" introduces Aphton Corbin (director “Twenty Something”) and Louis Gonzales (director “Nona”) who navigate the emotional rollercoaster of stepping into a leadership role and inspiring their crews. Giving audiences an exclusive and immersive look at the filmmakers and their films, the documentary explores the creative philosophy that makes Pixar unique. “Like Louis and Aphton, this was our first time directing, so we could relate to a lot of the experiences they were going through,” says Dare. “We found ourselves in the same situations trying to find our story, figuring out how to lead our team and getting comfortable trusting our instincts—taking leaps of faith and knowing we’ll figure out how to land. This helped us connect to their stories and appreciate their unique approaches to storytelling.”
Streams on Disney+ September 24

Disney+ is the dedicated streaming home for movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, along with The Simpsons and much more. In select international markets, it also includes the new general entertainment content brand, Star. The flagship direct-to-consumer streaming service from The Walt Disney Company, Disney+ is part of the Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution segment. The service offers commercial-free streaming alongside an ever-growing collection of exclusive originals, including feature-length films, documentaries, live-action and animated series, and short-form content. With unprecedented access to Disney’s long history of incredible film and television entertainment, Disney+ is also the exclusive streaming home for the newest releases from The Walt Disney Studios. Disney+ is available as a standalone streaming service or as part of The Disney Bundle that gives subscribers access to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. For more, visit, or find the Disney+ app on most mobile and connected TV devices.

(Info from Press Release)

Children 11 and Younger Receive Free Admission All Month at Both Wildlife Parks

This year, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is celebrating kids in a big way during October’s Kids Free Month, by offering amazingly fun activities and experiences for the whole family at the nonprofit conservation organization’s two wildlife parks. Throughout the entire month of October, kids ages 11 and younger will receive free admission to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and can take part in special October weekend activities, such as unique entertainment, culinary delights and one-of-a-kind encounters with amazing wildlife—as they discover ways that everyone can work together to build a world where all life thrives. 

At the San Diego Zoo, HalGLOWeen—a Halloween-themed extravaganza—is coming back, bigger and better than ever! This year, the glittering, glowing spectacular has been expanded to five fun-filled weekends—Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 1 through 31—to allow families more time to encounter remarkable wildlife in diverse habitats, and take part in all of the “fang-tastic” HalGLOWeen entertainment and experiences. As the sun goes down each weekend, from 5 to 9 p.m., guests can enjoy a multitude of entertainment options, including live music, amazing performances, and awesome interactive games and costume fun—hosted by the Zoo’s zany Dr. Zoolittle. Guests can meet and greet the Zoo’s Boo Crew, as Dr. Harry and Friends don their Halloween finery—and they will find delicious seasonal treats at eateries throughout the Zoo.

During the day, Zoo guests also have the opportunity to venture through two brand-new experiences: the Kenneth C. Griffin Komodo Kingdom and the William E. Cole Family Hummingbird Habitat. Both habitats offer state-of-the-art spaces where visitors can interact with some of the most powerful and delicate species on earth.

Komodo Kingdom offers visitors the chance to see these magnificent lizards up close, learn more about this species, the challenges they face and the work San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is doing to the save their species—and hundreds of others like them—and the delicate ecosystems they call home.  The adjacent infinity-loop-shaped Hummingbird Habitat provide guests the opportunity to experience several species of hummingbirds, as well as other rare birds from their native regions in North and South America—shining a light on species many people have heard of, but may not know a lot about.

Autumn Festival
At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, there’s a new celebration this year: Autumn Festival! Guests are invited each weekend—Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 16 through 31—to celebrate the fall season with wildlife encounters, entertainment and culinary comforts. Guests will be able to experience upbeat, modern country soundtracks and live Bluegrass music that will get everyone up and line dancing plus participate in interactive trivia games about autumn to win special culinary prizes. Safari Parker, explorer and adventurer extraordinaire, will share entertaining and educational insights about the importance of wildlife to our ecosystem, including tips on how we can help support and protect wildlife habitats before they disappear. Safari Park guests will also get an opportunity to find out more about the numerous flowers and fascinating plants around the Safari Park that thrive during fall. And at the Safari Park’s many restaurants, guests will discover remarkable tastes of autumn, with everything from pumpkin-spiced coffee and apple pie to pumpkin-flavored beer and apple cider. 

Apart from the amazing Autumn Festival activities, guests can take part in a variety of thrilling Safaris, such as flying over the landscape on Flightline Safari, climb aboard a caravan truck for a trip through the Park’s African savanna during a Wildlife Safari, or spend an amazing night under that stars for a Roar and Snore experience. 

All children younger than 15 must be accompanied by a paid adult during their visits to the Zoo and the Safari Park. The Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day—except during HalGLOWeen, when the Zoo will stay open until 9 p.m. The Safari Park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and until 7 p.m. on weekends for Autumn Festival. HalGLOWeen festivities take place only at the Zoo, and Autumn Festival takes place only at the Safari Park. Both experiences are free with paid admission or membership. For more information about Kids Free, HalGLOWeen and Autumn Festival—and to check out the Zoo’s costume guidelines for kids 11 and younger—visit

About San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is a nonprofit international conservation leader, committed to inspiring a passion for nature and creating a world where all life thrives. The Alliance empowers people from around the globe to support their mission to conserve wildlife through innovation and partnerships. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance supports cutting-edge conservation and brings the stories of their work back to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park—giving millions of guests, in person and virtually, the opportunity to experience conservation in action. The work of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance extends from San Diego to strategic and regional conservation “hubs” across the globe, where their strengths—via their “Conservation Toolbox,” including the renowned Wildlife Biodiversity Bank—are able to effectively align with hundreds of regional partners to improve outcomes for wildlife in more coordinated efforts. By leveraging these tools in wildlife care and conservation science, and through collaboration with hundreds of partners, San Diego Zoo Wil dlife Alliance has reintroduced more than 44 endangered species to native habitats. Each year, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s work reaches over 1 billion people in 150 countries via news media, social media, their websites, educational resources and the San Diego Zoo Kids channel, which is in children’s hospitals in 13 countries. Success is made possible by the support of members, donors and guests to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, who are Wildlife Allies committed to ensuring All Life Thrives. 

Written by Jesus Figueroa

DreamWorks animator Phillipe Le Brun talks with Jesus Figueroa, @ThisFunktional of, about being an animator on “The Boss Baby: Family Business,” available on Digital now and on Blu-ray and DVD September 14.

In the sequel to DreamWorks Animation’s Oscar®-nominated blockbuster comedy, the Templeton brothers—Tim (James Marsden, X-Men franchise) and his Boss Baby little bro Ted (Alec Baldwin)—have become adults and drifted away from each other. Tim is now a married stay-at-home dad. Ted is a hedge fund CEO. But a new boss baby with a cutting-edge approach and a can-do attitude is about to bring them together again … and inspire a new family business.

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San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s 50-year History of Wildlife Conservation to be Celebrated with a Float in the 134th Rose Parade Presented by Honda

(Info from press release) Giraffes, Rhinos and Wildlife Safari Truck Represent the Safari Park’s Ability to Connect People to Wildlife and ...