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Disney’s Disneynature Chimpanzees Here For Earth Day

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Disneynature brings the forests Republique de Coate-d’Ivoire of Africa to Disney viewers around the world. This true-life adventure brings families into the forest in this amazing film Chimpanzee. You are introduced to a young chimp named Oscar. What makes this is a special movie is you get to experience Oscars life that he lives outside the modern world that we all know. This is a story of family bonds and what he has to do to overcome challenges while accomplishing his individual triumphs. What is very entertaining is Oscars curiosity and his remarkable intelligence and all of the extraordinary personalities in their animal kingdom. Oscars chimpanzee family includes his mom, Isha, and the leader of the group, Freddy and follows them as they navigate the expansive and complex territories of the Republique de Coate-d’Ivoire. This country is about half the size of Texas with its southern border along the Gulf of Guinea and has a population of 21 million. The Forest is about 60 miles inland and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Its vast biodiversity includes hundreds of plant and bird species that live within its borders and of course is home to a thriving population of chimpanzees.

The location that was picked for this film was by no means an easy task. One of the big things is the sheer inaccessibility of the  Forest, says Alastair Fothergill, one of the films directors. To get there you begin by driving 10 hours from the nearest city on whats still a tarmac road. Then you do another four hours on a dirt road that is sometimes impassable. And, if you make it that far, theres an hour or more of walking along a very narrow path into the forest. So before starting filming they had to trek out into the jungle. Then while trying to find a suitable place to film they could not get good lighting because of the thick canopy of the forest. Eventually they came across an opening in the forest which has about 30 chimpanzees, and within that group they found their stars sitting there grooming each other, playing and showing off.

However during filming a tragic turn of events unfolded. Oscar was separated from his family. Expert figures show that about half of all newborn chimpanzees will die during the first five years of life. And Oscar was still dependent on mothers protection and breast milk and losing her meant less of a chance of survival. We had all fallen in love with little Oscar, says Fothergill, so it was incredibly painful to see him so alone and helpless. In the back of our minds, we were also thinking we might have to call Disney and say, Thanks guys, we havent got a movie.

But eventually the leader of the group Freddy, takes over caring for Oscar. Alpha males have never been caught on film caring for youth. But soon Freddy was helping Oscar with nuts and even letting Oscar sleep with him. It was just amazing and very touching to see this big, normally gruff male pour his love and devotion into caring for Oscar, says co-director Mark Linfield. Its incredible because when youre an alpha male or number one male, you have a certain role to play, says Dr. Jane Goodall, a renowned Chimpanzee expert. You have to make sure that you keep the cohesion of the other males in your group, which is very important because of territorial aggression. Looking after an infant, carrying an infant on your back, spending time grooming an infant, is going to detract you from the normal role of the alpha male, so its an altruistic behavior but an interesting one, because that very altruism could have led to the demise of the whole group, or at least to them losing their territory.

The story goes on showing Oscar and his fellow young chimp friends as viewing the world as a playground. It does come to a halt when Oscars family is approached and confronted by an outside group of chimps lead by a Chimpanzee Scar. But relying on each other and being a cohesive group makes for a great film on what family does for each other, among all walks of life.

Director Mark Linfield credits Oscar with helping him realize a lifelong dream. I have always wanted to make a film about chimpanzees and I dont think there could be a more fascinating wildlife subject, he says. They can be playful and tender, cunning, loving, competitive, curious and simply full of fun. They’re just like us, or were just like them, however you want to think of it, and when they look out at us from the big screen, its impossible not to feel an extraordinary connection and be completely engaged.

Disneys Chimpanzee is rated G and is directed by Alastair Fothergill, who directed African Cats and Earth and also Mark Linfield, a co-director of Disneys Earth.

Chimpanzee will be coming to the big screens and theaters across the world on no better day than Earth Day 2012.



Disneynature Chimpanzee Oscar


Oscar is an energetic and feisty baby chimpanzee who is also adorable ad very curious. Just like little kids, he likes to play with his friends all while learning about the world around him. His mom Isha is there to keep an eye on him and protect him. But like with all intelligent life, Oscar has to learn a lot. Along his journey he meets a mentor and teacher who helps him grow. Director Alastair Fothergill says everyone loved Oscar from the moment they saw him. There is something playful and a bit naughty about him and hes clearly quite determined.

Oscars mother Isha is a caring and loving mother, and is Oscars sole caretaker. She does everything for him including grooming, nursing and provides his transportation around the rainforest. And like with mothers of all life, she constantly has to deal with Oscars curiosity and energy. But again like many mothers, she loves her son and does anything that he needs.

Disneynature Chimpanzee Isha


The leader of Oscars Chimpanzee family is Freddy. His duty is keeping the family safe and has a good nose and high knowledge of where to find meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like with all life, we all need food for energy. Freddy is a serious and responsible leader and does not spend too much time having fun and being carefree.

Disneynature Chimpanzee Freddy


Scar is the leader of a rival chimpanzee group which wants to take food from Oscars home in the forest. His group is looking for ways to take over the territory and keeps the whole group, especially Oscar on the edge of his toes.

Disneynature Chimpanzee Scar




The environment in which the filming took place was in temperatures up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit with almost 100 percent humidity. Living in Nigeria myself for a year of my life, it is something that takes a lot of getting used to, since there are no seasons to change the weather. Filming took place in the forests.

The crew also had track the Chimpanzees which would travel up to three miles away from the campsite and had to trek up to six miles per day while following what the Chimpanzees wanted to do, totaling almost 12 miles a day on foot. To help with all this walking, crew members wore two pair of socks to prevent blisters and rubber boots were essential to keep their feet dry to prevent developing foot rot and protecting them from snake bites. And getting stung by bees and ants went with the territory as they followed the Chimpanzees and their eating habits.

And keeping clean meant using cold water for showers, but since the forest was warm is wasn’t that bad. However with the high humidity, towels would never be dry. And one night millions of driver ants swarmed their camp covering their beds. They deterred the ants by pouring generator fuel around the camp. Members of the crew got more than 50 bee stings and on one night a tree in their camp were struck by lightning which then traveled through the ground and shocked them, but did not cause any major harm to the crew.

Filming the entire Chimpanzee adventure took more than 700 days to film. And to get to the Tai Forest it took two days which included an exhausting 14-hour drive along bumpy dirt roads with frequent break downs in the middle of nowhere and miles away remote villages. Then the crew had to carry all the equipment for an hour-long walk to their campsite.

And to build the camp site of for the film crew they had to carry to their site:

  • 2.5 tons of cement
  • 7 tons of wood
  • 400 sheets of roofing tin
  • 4 truckloads of sand
  • 4 truckloads of gravel
  • 6 water tanks
  • 4 beds and mattresses
  • 3 sinks
  • 1 toilet
  • 1 shower
  • 1 stove
  • 550 pounds of food

For many of the days shooting footage, each team member hauled around 40 pounds of gear which included:

  • Camera
  • Lenses
  • Ponchos
  • Several water bottles
  • Walkie-talkies
  • Head torches
  • Spare batteries
  • Insect repellent
  • Notebook and pen
  • Head nets to protect from bee attacks
  • Antihistamines and adrenaline in case of bee attack
  • Flapjacks
  • Noodles and sardines for lunch
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Lens cloths
  • Surgical face masks
  • Map
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bags


Chimpanzee is Disneynatures fourth film released under the Disneynature brand. Disneynature is The Walt Disney Studios newest label since 60 years ago. The Disneynature label was brought to the public in April 2008 and worked its magic by bringing the worlds top nature filmmakers together. Together they have captured a vast variety of wildlife subjects and stories which have connected with viewers and cultures of all ages and all over the world.

Disneynature’s first releases include Earth, Oceans and African Cats and all are some of the highest grossing feature-length films bringing nature to civilization. The impact of this many people seeing these films are great for the Earth and nature both.

Its only natural that Disneynature was created since Walt Disney was a pioneer in creating documentaries that captured wildlife. During his life from 1948 and 1960, Walt produced 13 True-Life Adventure films which include Seal Island (1948), Beaver Valley (1950), The Living Desert (1953) and Jungle Cat (1958). His films earned eight Academy Awards®.



Here are some activity worksheets for children and adults. There are coloring books, worksheets, and information on animals of the forest. Here a couple of screenshots of just a fraction of what the activity packet includes. The PDF file can be downloaded by clicking here. Disneynature Chimpanzee Activities SheetsDIsneynature Chimpanzee Activities Sheets Sample


I have including the Disneynature Chimpanzee Educators Guide for those who want to learn about Chimpanzees and what educators need to know to inform their students. It includes over one hundred pages of in depth material and information on everything Chimpanzee. Click here to download the guide in a PDF format.



Every person during the opening week of April 20th to through the 26th this year will help the Chimpanzees in a special way. For every ticket purchased, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund will donate to the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) which will help and protect chimpanzees today and tomorrow. The Jane Goodall Institute was founded in 1977 as a pioneering research institution on chimpanzee behavior.

Research on Chimpanzees started more than 50 years ago and has helped to shape and transform the scientific beliefs and perceptions of how humans and animals interact. Today, the Institute is not only a known as an innovative and widely recognized for its community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, but also is a global leader with their efforts and focus on protecting chimpanzees and their habitats. Also Jane Goodalls Roots & Shoots is a global environmental and humanitarian program for all ages of youth with groups in more than 120 countries. Check out www.janegoodall.org to learn more about JGI.



Disneynature Website and Mobile Site: Disney.com/Chimpanzee

Like Disneynature on Facebook: Facebook.com/Disneynature

Follow Disneynature on Twitter: twitter.com/Disneynature


This is all original content and not copy and pasted from a press release. Please do not copy.


  1. Jessica Hays on April 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I would love to take my daughter to see this! It looks so interesting!

  2. shelly peterson on April 11, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I definitely want to take the kids to see this, what a great family movie. It’s amazing the travels they had to go through to b eable to shoot this movie. So glad they were able to so they could capture this loving family/group of chimpanzees on film