A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zoo Baby is a kid-friendly, black-and-white British movie made in 1960 that's very old-fashioned. Still Pip's efforts to adjust to a new home and family can be familiar and relatable. There's a bit of mild suspense when Pip and his treasured new friend encounter some noisy lions and an unyielding trapeze. Sensitive kids could worry along with Pip that he may be sent to boarding school or prison, but the unease is temporary, and there's a general feeling throughout that everything will turn out well.
What's the story?
Pip has come from his beloved home in Nairobi to go to school and live with his childless, but caring aunt in England. It's a big change, and he's trying hard, but can't help but feel sad, angry, and out of place. A visit to the zoo finds Pip identifying and sympathizing with "Peggy," a South American coati mundi (a small mammal) who, like Pip, has been transplanted to England. When he hears people talking about "starving" an animal, Pip misunderstands and sets out to save Peggy. The rescue is easy; the aftermath is not. Pip's good intentions lead to lies, trouble, and a concerned, but furious aunt.
Is it any good?
ZOO BABY is a visit to a rarified theatrical past; the simple story, unsubtle performances, and larger-than-life incidents will seem quaint to today's kids.
But there are some very likable elements here: the adorable little animal, Pip's struggle to feel comfortable and loved in his new home, and, finally, the intrigue that's always appealing -- will Pip fool everyone else in the village and save the day?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Pip's first lie snowballed into major trouble for him. Has that ever happened to you? Did you learn from the experience?
Some things, like wanting to be liked and have friends, have not changed since 1960 when this movie was made. Other than the obvious (like clothes, transportation), how and why is life different today?
Did you agree with Mary's decisions when she discovered Peggy in Pip's room? What should she have done to be more helpful?
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