Disney to Open Park Despite Animal Deaths

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.--Disney's 500-acre Animal Kingdom park here expects to open on schedule April 22 and to conduct its wildlife safari program as planned, despite the recent accidental deaths of 13 animals, a spokeswoman said.

Two West African crown cranes were run over by the park's tour vehicles, and four cheetah cubs succumbed to a chemical substance, which may also have been responsible for cheetah deaths at other parks. The deaths of two rhinos, two hippos, and three herd animal deaths are under scrutiny by zoology experts.

Animal rights activitists, who were opposed to the theme park when it was announced, are expected to demonstrate at the opening.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials found no violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

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