Born to Be Wild

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Born to Be Wild Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Sweet, inspiring tale of two wildlife fairy godmothers.
  • G
  • 2011
  • 40 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids will learn a great deal about the two species followed in the documentary -- elephants and orangutans. The film teaches kids about the complexities of raising and caring for babies that belong in the wild. There are some references to the importance of habitat preservation and discussion of a few of the reasons that the animals are being left motherless.

Positive Messages

The movies makes the case that people should care about the future and welfare of orphaned wild animals like elephants and orangutans. Galdikas and Sheldrick both show how a life of passion and dedication to conservation can save hundreds and thousands of animals. Although the movie doesn't focus on how humans are responsible for the endangerment of the animals, it does stress that everyone can -- and should-- help rescue efforts around the world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dame Sheldrick and Dr. Galdikas are both exemplary women who have devoted their careers -- and their lives -- to conservation and wildlife preservation efforts. Using their expertise and their passion for elephants and orangutans, each has been able to make a huge difference by saving animals and then releasing them back to their native environments.

Violence & Scariness

The narration references how the baby elephants and orangutans were orphaned -- mostly because of poachers and habitat loss. A few times an animal baby has an injury -- like a chewed up ear or a missing tail -- that's mentioned and explained (i.e., hyena attack).

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this brief (40 minutes) IMAX documentary is a safe choice for younger kids because there aren't any upsetting scenes of predatory violence or deaths, both of which are common in comparable, longer films about the animal kingdom. There are, however, some references to the reasons that animals were orphaned (mostly due to poachers, since predators don't typically leave young animals alive). The two female experts followed in the documentary are wonderful role models, particularly to kids interested in zoology and nature, because they've dedicated their lives to researching and rescuing animals, as well as preserving their natural habitats.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2 and 4-year-old Written byTooMuchPopcorn June 2, 2019

A great first nature documentary for kids

This was a great way to spend 40 minutes of family movie time. It's educational for everyone, and gives kids a chance to see animals showing much more pers... Continue reading
Parent Written byzinnia January 13, 2012

Educational and Lovely!!

Wonderful story - highly recommend to any family with children 5 and older!
Teen, 16 years old Written byBrigidArmbrust July 14, 2019
Kid, 12 years old January 17, 2015

Eye Opening.

This film is very eye -opening and makes people realize how desperatley these endangered species need help. The film quality was A+. They only mainly focused on... Continue reading

What's the story?

Shot in IMAX 3-D, BORN TO BE WILD is a wildlife documentary that alternates between following primatologist Birute Galdikas in the jungles of Borneo and elephant expert Daphne Sheldrick in a Kenyan wildlife preserve. Audiences watch as the two conservationists and their staffs work tirelessly to rescue orphaned orangutans and elephants, respectively, acting as surrogate mothers (even sleeping with and "nursing" the juveniles with a specially concocted formula) until they're old enough to be released back into the wild.

Is it any good?

Narrated by the soothing tones of Morgan Freeman, this documentary makes up for in content what it lacks in length. At a sprightly 40 minutes, it's just long enough to entertain even younger moviegoers with short attention spans. It may not always provide the most comprehensive view of the elephant and orangutan crisis (there's no sociopolitical commentary about why local practices contribute to the hunting of the adult elephants and orangutans), but it does provide an in-depth look at how two determined women, with the help of dozens of animal-loving staffers, have single-handedly made a tremendous impact on wildlife protection around the world.

It's hard to dislike a documentary that focuses on adorable baby animals. Watching a team of Indonesian women put diapers on newborn orangutan orphans and then sing a sweet lullaby as one of the babies falls asleep will be enough to make any mothers in the audience shed a tear or two. But despite the often-sentimental visuals, director David Lickley doesn't allow the narration to be overwrought or maudlin. Instead, he often hands over the narration to Galdikas and Sheldrick so that they can tell us in their own words why they're so passionate about these animals -- and why we should care about their plight. And even better than the touching documentary are the conversations you and your kids can have afterward about the enormity of the work of these dedicated experts.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of wildlife documentaries. Why are they so popular? What makes the lives of animals so compelling to us?

  • What does the movie teach about keeping elephants and orangutans safe from poachers and habitat loss? How can viewers get involved?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Themes & Topics

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