Features

A playful, poignant ‘fairy tale’ on wildlife

An infant orangutan chews on a branch while relaxing in a hammock during the filming of “Born To Be Wild 3D.”
An infant orangutan chews on a branch while relaxing in a hammock during the filming of “Born To Be Wild 3D.”

A large-format IMAX nature film of the type normally seen in museums and science centers, “Born to be Wild” celebrates the efforts of two intrepid women, half a world apart, who rescue orphaned animals and return them to the wild.

This is very much “a fairy tale,” as Morgan Freeman narrates. Director David Lickley (“Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees”) and his crew follow two women.

Birute Galdikas, a researcher on Borneo, has evolved from studying orangutans to saving them. Their habitat is being destroyed to make way for vast palm-oil plantations.

Her team picks up the orangutans, some of them pets, and teaches them what they need to know to return to the jungle. Human staffers become mothers to the orphaned ones, feeding, bonding and singing lullabies to them, keeping just enough distance to let them remain “wild.”

Once the apes are old enough, they’re taken to a national park and released.

Daphne Sheldrick has been doing something similar in Kenya with elephants orphaned because their moms have ivory tusks. For half a century, Sheldrick has been perfecting elephant baby formula and raising whole herds of orphan elephants that return to the wild as a herd.

“Born to be Wild” is a playful film. Kids will get a kick out of the orangutan that gets into a kitchen cupboard, orangutan burps and elephant soccer. And it has a sprinkling of tunes (Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya,” Mel Torme singing “Coming Home Baby”) that further lighten the tone.

Cute, but never insufferably so, it’s the perfect film to transition your kids from animation to live-action fare – short, sweet and educational.

“Born to be Wild” is showing at the Riverfront Park IMAX.


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