The Jungle Cruise is one of my favorite rides because I love puns and animals. But sometimes the puns get in the way of communicating accurate facts about the creatures around the world.
Try to guess whether each joke is based in fact or fiction!
Monarch butterflies are the rulers of the jungle. They range in size from one foot to 12 inches.
Monarch butterflies only have a wingspan of up to 10 centimeters, or around 4 inches. Even the largest living butterfly, the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing only has a maximum wingspan of 11 inches (about 28 cm). But the honor of largest insect fossil belongs to griffinflies, which were like dragonflies only with wings that would stretch over two feet (27 inches/68.6 cm).
And even their common name, Monarch, can be debated. Similar butterflies in the same Danaus genus have common names like Queen, Soldier, or Viceroy. But the indigenous people who live near the cloud forests that Monarch butterflies migrate to each year have given the regal insects other names like xepje or papalotl.
Bengal tigers can leap up over 20 feet. But don’t worry, we’re only 10 feet away. That tiger will go right over your heads. Just like my jokes.
Bengal tigers can jump a horizontal distance of up to 30 feet and can jump 12 feet vertically in the air. Tigers get their jumping power from their powerful hind legs, which are longer than their front legs.
You may think that’s water coming out of their trunks, but it’s snot! Sorry that’s just a bit of dry humor.
Elephant trunks are lined with mucus, which is a more formal term for the snotty substance that traps things like dirt, bacteria, and viruses in our noses and lungs. Once a year at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the elephant snot is particularly evident when the zookeepers test the pachyderms for tuberculosis. This procedure involves putting a small amount of salt water into elephants’ nostrils and having them lift their trunks so the water coats the entire inner lining. Then, the elephants blow out the solution into a bag. Sometimes, chunky yellow booger-like pieces are visible in the bag.
Other creatures have their own means of dealing with snotty situations. Gorillas blow their noses whereas giraffes will use their long tongues to clear out their nostrils. Other primates like chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys have been observed using tools like blades of grass or sticks to pick their noses.
Hippos are only dangerous when they wiggle their ears and blow bubbles.
Fiction! And fiction!
Hippopotami do wiggle their ears but it isn’t intended as a sign of aggression. When hippos go underwater, they close their nostrils and ears using specialized valves. When they emerge from under the surface, hippos wiggle their ears to clear out any water that might have gotten in anyways.
Hippos will sometimes blow bubbles when they are communicating with each other. Scientists like William Barklow are still working to understand all of the different ways hippos communicate above and below water. But blowing bubbles isn’t as common as their characteristic wheeze-honk sound. Sometimes bubbles will come out of somewhere besides hippos’ head…
But you should be wary of a hippo that appears to be yawning at you! Their teeth are their most powerful and dangerous weapons, so they open their mouths wide to show them off as a warning.
Women and children, you have nothing to worry about, those are man-eating piranhas.
Piranhas are not likely to eat humans and they are unlikely to be able to tell the difference between genders or ages of humans. Some piranha species are vegetarian, omnivorous, and even cannibalistic. Piranhas are more likely to eat mammals if they’re already dead.
If you are a woman who is menstruating or a child who would likely splash the water a lot, I wouldn’t recommend getting into piranha-infested water though. Piranhas have been shown to be able to detect blood at low concentrations and to listen for fruits or nuts falling from trees and hitting the surface of their river habitat.
What’s your favorite Jungle Cruise joke? Comment below and I’ll find out if there’s any scientific truth to it!