Parents' Guide to

One Lucky Elephant

By Kari Croop, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Balanced docu stirs big questions about wild animal care.

Movie NR 2012 81 minutes
One Lucky Elephant Poster Image

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One Lucky Elephant might be too heavy for younger kids. But is an effective vehicle for discussion about the fates of wild animals raised in captivity -- whether they grow up to live in circuses, zoos, private homes, or animal sanctuaries -- that's presented in a thoughtful and generally unbiased way. The filmmaker's choice to let the footage speak for itself without the aid of excessive text or narration also allows viewers to draw their own conclusions about the motivations of the characters in play and the weighty question of wild animal care.

Flora's lifelong caretaker, David Balding, isn't portrayed as a bad man -- quite the opposite, as he's a truly loving and concerned animal parent. Yet he repeatedly expresses regret that he might have made mistakes in the way he raised Flora, mirroring the way any parent might feel about a now-grown child who's begun acting out. The film's ending is equally ambiguous in terms of whether David was "right" or "wrong," leaving you, the viewer, to decide for yourself.

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