Disney Nature: Monkey Kingdom

We recently saw Disney Nature’s newest documentary titled Monkey Kingdom, and it was pretty good. What I loved about this film that was different than previous Disney Nature pics was that they showed the interaction between the monkeys and their human neighbors. As humans develop more and more into previously wild areas, there will inevitably be some overlap. You get to see the difference in how they live between their wild home, and the one in the big city. Their sleeping habits are affected, their diets, and even their social structure. Narrated by Tina Fey, it had the typical style of other Disney Nature documentaries where the subjects are named, and the events take place from a particular animal’s perspective, in this case, an adult female monkey low in the social order. It follows the amazing journey of these monkeys from their home territory, to the big city, and back, and the female monkeys journey from the bottom to the top of the social hierarchy. I recommend this movie to both adults and children looking to learn more about nature and get a good story at the same time.


Blackfish: A film about the largest orca in captivity and what drove him to kill

I can’t wait to see this documentary. It played at the Sarasota Film Festival while I was living there but I wasn’t able to attend. This film is about Tilikum, the largest killer whale in captivity, who has attacked and killed more than once. Tilikum lives in Sea World Orlando along with multiple other killer whales. I read somewhere that over half of the killer whales in captivity have Tilikum’s genes because of his extensive use in breeding and artificial insemination.

He, along with two other orcas, was captured from the wild in the waters of iceland back in the early ’80s. That this happened is so sad. He was only 2 or 3 years old and torn from his mother’s side. It is no wonder that he apparently has great anxiety and aggression. He is psychologically disturbed. Whales, and all cetaceans, are some of the most intelligent species on earth. There are some animals that shouldn’t be in captivity, especially those that would reside in a much larger habitat in the wild than can be provided in a park. Orcas travel the world’s oceans, live in family pods, dive deep, and have social relationships. To take such massive and sentient animals and essentially put them in a swimming pool is, not surprisingly, very controversial. The Shamu show is what draws in the big crowds to Sea World, but it is not in the best interest of the animals.

In my opinion (which you do not have to agree with), Sea World and any other place like that should not be allowed to breed cetaceans. The animals they currently own have lived in captivity so long that they cannot be released, they wouldn’t survive. But no more animals should be born into this life. It is one thing if an animal is rescued for rehabilitation and then is deemed unreleasable because of injuries or illness that wouldn’t allow it to survive in the wild. It is a completely different thing thing to intentionally kidnap them from the wild and then use them to breed even more in captivity. This is not conservation. Those animals aren’t being breed to ultimately be released and help the wild populations grow. They are being breed to be trained for a show.

I highly recommend that everyone see this film. Here is a link to showings and theaters.

Check out the trailer for Blackfish here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G93beiYiE74]

“We Bought a Zoo”: Book vs. Movie

We Bought a Zoo. Both a book and a movie. About all they have in common are their titles and the fact that the main character…well…bought a zoo. Obviously, as goes with most book-to-movie productions, the book was better.

We-Bought-a-Zoo-bookI read the book a couple of months before they announced a movie was going to be made and the book was so good that I literally cried at the sad parts, laughed out loud at the funny parts, and couldn’t put the book down until I finished. I read that book cover to cover and was seriously bummed when I finished it. It was so inspirational. I wanted to visit that zoo. I was convinced that it was my new purpose in life to buy and refurbish and reopen a zoo. That lasted about a week before I remembered that it was only a book and that wasn’t really what I wanted to do, though it would be cool. The neat thing about that book is that it is a true story, and the author, Benjamin Mee, who is the man who bought the zoo, doesn’t spare any detail of the whole ordeal, even describing every intimate detail of his wife falling ill and passing away. (I don’t think that’s a spoiler but sorry if it was. Oops.)



The movie, starring Matt Damon, while also good, was very Hollywoodized (is that a real word?) and moved too fast through the story and left out what I feel are very important aspects of the story. But that’s show biz I guess. I didn’t feel like the movie allowed me to become emotionally attached to the characters like the book did and the romantic interests added in offended me because of the authors real life turmoil with loosing his wife in the book. I still enjoyed the movie and maybe my expectations were just too high because I loved the book so much. If you have’t read the book or seen the movie yet, I suggest watching the movie first so that you can enjoy it for what it is. If you read the book first, the movie will only disappoint.

Click here to visit the website of the Dartmoor Zoo (the actual zoo from the book and movie).